President Niyazov has visited European countries and received European delegations to promote foreign investments, diplomatic ties, and applications for membership in international aid organizations. During talks with officials of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO--see Glossary) in 1993, Niyazov stated that Turkmenistan would welcome NATO assistance in the creation of its national armed forces. In April 1994, French President François Mitterrand visited Ashgabat, where he signed agreements on investments, cultural exchange, and tariffs. At that time, France also allocated US$35 million in trade credits for the construction of a presidential palace. In November 1994, Niyazov toured Austria, Romania, and Slovakia to attract oil and gas investments.
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