After Qatar talks, France sees chance to develop defence partnership

The International Paris Air Show at the Paris-Le Bourget Airport

A demonstration of the French multirole fighter aircraft Dassault Rafale during the International Paris Air Show at the Paris-Le Bourget Airport, France June 19, 2023. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS

PARIS, July 25 (Reuters) – France and Qatar have a common will to develop a defence partnership that builds on the existing cooperation with Rafale fighter jets, a French defence ministry source said on Tuesday, days after the minister visited Doha to cement military ties.

Qatar did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The source declined to confirm a report from economic daily La Tribune newspaper on Tuesday that Doha wanted to buy 24 extra Dassault-made planes PA> and possibly upgrade its existing fleet with the latest technologies. La Tribune did not identify its sources.

Sebastien Lecornu held talks with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in Qatar last week.

The French source said the feeling was that Doha was satisfied with its Rafale purchase and their impression was that there was a will to take the partnership further.

That could mean buying new planes and upgrading the existing fleet, the source said.

The two countries sealed an initial $7 billion (6.34 billion euros) 24 Rafale deal in 2015 before Qatar ordered a further 12 in 2017.

In a statement on Friday, the French Defence Ministry said the discussions in Qatar had “focused on strengthening the Franco-Qatari strategic partnership, founded on diplomatic, operation and industrial cooperation”.

India last week approved the purchase of 26 Rafales, the latest in a string of contracts for Dassault, which 18 months ago received an order for 80 units from the United Arab Emirates.

(1 euro = $1.1043)

(This story has been corrected to say that the desire is to develop partnership, in headline and paragraph 1; and also clarifies the French source’s comments in paragraph 5)

Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Alison Williams

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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