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The government has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with French engineering giant Alstom, the minister of foreign affairs and trade said on Friday. At the signing ceremony in Budapest, Péter Szijjártó said Alstom could help to make Hungary “a local exception” in the face of impending recession in Europe. Investor confidence and securing further international investment projects is key to maintaining economic growth amid the current economic crisis, the foreign ministry quoted Szijjártó as saying. Alstom is a global market leader in train manufacturing, he said, noting that its plant in Mátranovák, in northern Hungary, is an important hub employing 650 people. Alstom is committed to expanding its activities and creating further jobs in Hungary, he added. Szijjártó noted that Alstom built the world’s first hydrogen-powered train. Hydrogen, he added, would be a key component of energy security in the future, and offered further opportunities for cooperation. “Ensuring jobs for Hungarians and a predictable path to the future is a top priority for government economic policymaking in the current, extremely difficult situation,” the minister said.