France is in talks to agree billions of euros worth of contracts in Saudi Arabia that could be finalised "quickly", ranging from the defence sector to civil aviation, transport and energy, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said yesterday.
Speaking after President François Hollande held talks with key ministers of the kingdom's new cabinet, Fabius said the two countries had set up a joint committee to seal some 20 projects over the coming months. "It covers 20 projects. If these projects are finalised then that will represent several dozen billions of euros," he told reporters, adding the first deals should be realised "quickly." Declining to give specific company details, he said talks in the defence sector were at an advanced stage confirming that some of those deals focused on the naval sector.
Hollande was in Riyadh, his fourth visit since becoming president, at the invitation of Saudi Arabia to attend a Gulf leaders summit. Over the last three years it has been nurturing its links with Gulf states diplomatically and it is beginning to see commercial rewards. France on Monday signed a $7 billion contract with Qatar for Rafale fighter jets and has already won about $15 billion of defence contracts in the region over the last year.
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