ABU DHABI, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- French Defense Minister Herve Morin said here Sunday that his country's planned military base in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will become operational in May.
France announced during a January visit to the UAE by President Nicolas Sarkozy that it would set up a permanent military base of up to 500 troops in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi.
Iran has lashed out at French plans to set up the military base, saying it would only cause instability to the Gulf region.
Morin, however, urged Iran to become more transparent in its nuclear program, so as to ease the fears from the oil-rich Gulf Arab countries.
"France insists that Iran plays the transparency card, cooperates internationally to make its nuclear energy program clear," Morin told a press conference on the sidelines of the ninth International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX 2009) in Abu Dhabi.
The military base deal will make France become the second Western country, besides the United States, to have a military base in the Gulf region.
Iran has vocally criticized the presence of foreign forces in the Gulf region, notably the U.S. military, which has bases in the Gulf countries including Bahrain and Qatar.