France's secret diplomacy with Syria, and the arms dealer who played emissary

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Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine, 61, is cited as a key witness in ongoing investigations led by Paris-based examining magistrates Renaud Van Ruymbeke and Roger Le Loire into suspected illegal political financing in France from the sale of three French Agosta class submarines to Pakistan in the 1990s. The magistrates' enquiry was launched after suspicions that the significant sums officially destined as commissions - or bribes - to Pakistani officials ended up returning, illegally, to France to fund political activities. Suspicion centres on former prime minister Edouard Balladur's political movement and unsuccessful 1995 presidential election campaign, for which his budget minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, also served as official campaign spokesman.