During a visit by Emmanuel Macron to Qatar on Thursday, Qatar signed a deal to buy 12 French Rafale fighter jets, while Qatar Airways is looking to buy 50 Airbus A321 aircrafts, AFP news agency reported.
As soon as landed, Macron traveled to the vast al-Udeid air base, home to some 10,000 American troops and the forward headquarters of the U.S. military’s Central Command. France also has a contingent of soldiers at the base.
Macron is traveling with Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who in 2015 as defense minister helped negotiate a six billion euros ($7.11bn) deal with Qatar to buy 24 Rafale fighter jets.
The Rafale is made by Dassault Aviation. “We’ve been negotiating for months,” defence minister Florence Parly had told BFM TV.
The two sides are also in talks for sale of 300 VBCI armoured vehicles from French firm Nexter and a contract worth some three billion euros to manage the Doha metro for 20 years.
“Discussions are ongoing,” a French presidential source told reporters on Monday ahead of the visit. “You spoke about several dossiers for which the point of maturity is close, but I prefer to remain a little bit prudent and wait until Thursday.”
Paris has pushed further business interests in Qatar as well as encourage investment into France, where Qatar already has assets worth about $10bn.
France has also sought to play a role as a go-between in a row, which began in early June, when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut political and trade ties with Qatar.
Since then Qatar has sought to strengthen its military, including signing military equipment deals with the United States, Russia and Britain.
In September, Qatar has signed an agreement to buy 24 Typhoon fighter jets from Britain.
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a joint project between British defence group BAE Systems, France’s Airbus, and Italy’s Finmeccanica.
SOURCE: Reuters news agency