SAO PAULO, Brazil - French President Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to sign an arms deal during his visit to Brazil that could help this country build Latin America's first nuclear-propelled submarine, the government's official news agency said yesterday.

The French president is scheduled to arrive in Rio de Janeiro tomorrow for a Brazil-European Union summit. He is currently president of the European Union's council.

Agencia Brasil said Sarkozy and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva would sign an agreement after the summit that includes the transfer of French technology for Brazil to build four conventional submarines, as well as the hull for "Brazil's first nuclear submarine."

France had promised this year to help Brazil build the Scorpene attack submarine, a conventional diesel-powered vessel that Brazilian officials hope will help them develop Latin America's first nuclear-propelled submarine. They said it would protect Brazil's large offshore oil reserves and exploration platforms.

Brazil in 1979 began a formal program to develop a nuclear submarine, and Lula last year announced $540 million in funding for the program and for uranium-enrichment efforts.

The nation has five conventionally powered submarines.

Agencia Brasil said that another likely agreement called for the construction of 50 EC 725 Cougar helicopters by Brazil's Helibras, which is controlled by Eurocopter, a branch of the French-German defense group EADS.

Brazil's Foreign Ministry said the two presidents would also sign agreements on sustainable development and protection of the Amazon rain forest and in education, science and nuclear energy.

The international financial crisis was expected to dominate the talks as the summit begins tomorrow.