French influence in Middle East rises after inking £4.6bn jet deal

French President Francois Hollande said the Qatari jet deal came from a tough line on Iran
FRANCE and Qatar signed a €6.3bn (£4.6bn) deal yesterday for the sale of 24 Rafale fighter jets, an accord hailed by President Francois Hollande as a mark of Gulf Arab regard for French regional strategy, including its firm line on Iran.

The contract - the third this year for Dassault, after deals to sell Rafale jets to Egypt and India - also includes MBDA missiles, as well as the training of 36 Qatari pilots and 100 technicians by the French military.

Officials said the accord signed by Hollande and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani also provided for the training of a number of Qatari intelligence officers.

“It’s a good choice,” said Hollande, who was due to visit Saudi Arabia later on Monday to attend a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Riyadh.

“If we are present here in Qatar and the region. it is because France is considered a reliable country, which a partner country can give their confidence to,” he said, adding that French credibility in the region helped with Rafale sales.

Hollande said there could be options for further sales of the plane in Qatar.