Saudi Ara­bia, France sign bil­lions in ship, plane deals


Saudi Ara­bia signed agree­ments worth bil­lions of dol­lars on Wed­nes­day to buy he­li­copters, Air­bus jets and two pos­si­ble nu­clear re­ac­tors from France.

The sign­ing in Paris comes as Saudi Ara­bia is seek­ing to bol­ster its mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­i­ties while it is lead­ing a coali­tion against ex­trem­ists in neigh­bor­ing Ye­men. A high-level del­e­ga­tion is in the French cap­i­tal this week led by Deputy Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man, who is King Sal­man’s youngest son and has quickly risen to be­come one of the most pow­er­ful men in the king­dom.

Saudi and French of­fi­cials signed ac­cords at the pres­i­den­tial El­y­see Palace on Wed­nes­day for 23 he­li­copters for the Saudi In­te­rior Min­istry, 50 Air­bus jets and a study for two new-gen­er­a­tion nu­clear re­ac­tors, as well as nu­clear waste and safety train­ing.

French For­eign Min­is­ter Lau­rent Fabius said Wed­nes­day that the two have agreed to sell French pa­trol boats “to en­hance the ca­pa­bil­ity of the Saudi Coast Guard, which is to­day threats.”

The For­eign Min­istry said three of the ac­cords were worth more than US$12 bil­lion. It didn’t put a mon­e­tary value on the oth­ers, which likely in­volve sev­eral bil­lion more.

Saudi For­eign Min­is­ter Adel AlJubeir also urged more help from the re­gion to help Ye­men re­con­struct.

“Gulf coun­tries should send their help to Ye­men, so that our (Ye­meni) broth­ers could re­con­struct their coun­try and find a

fac­ing grow­ing po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion and sign a (peace) agree­ment,” he told re­porters. “I hope that Houthis will re­turn to senses and un­der­stand that they might have a role in Ye­men, but that it should be done in a peace­ful man­ner.”

French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande presided over Wed­nes­day’s sign­ing, af­ter push­ing the deals dur­ing a re­cent visit to Riyadh. France has cul­ti­vated ties with Gulf states even as re­la­tions be­tween the U.S. and Saudi Ara­bia have cooled un­der U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

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