French President Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to express solidarity to Cyprus over the recent blast at a naval base which killed 13 persons and injured dozens, when he receives President of the Republic Demetris Christofias later today at the Elysee Palace.

According to the French Presidency website, Sarkozy will receive President Christofias at 17:00 local time (15.00 GMT).

Discussions will focus on bilateral cooperation and the main European and international issues.

It is further noted that this meeting will present the French President with the opportunity to express France’s solidarity to Cyprus over the destruction at the naval base “Evagelos Florakis”.

President Christofias left this morning for Paris. He did not make any statement on departure.

Thirteen people were killed – six firemen, five National Guard members and two sailors – by the huge blast which rocked nearby communities and caused extensive damage. Mari village suffered most of the damage.

The massive explosion occurred a few minutes before 0600 local time (0300 GMT), when containers, full of munitions, which Cyprus had confiscated from “Monchegorsk”, a vessel sailing from Iran to Syria in 2009, complying with UN sanctions against Teheran.

Following the blast, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence and the Chief of the National Guard have stepped down.

The explosion caused huge damage to the island`s main electricity power plant at Vasiliko, which resulted in regular power cuts.

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