France and Qatar signed a slew of contracts as President Emmanuel Macron arrives in Qatar to solidify French business interests and Qatar continues to firm up its ties with the West.
Among the deals: France’s Dassault Aviation sold a further 12 Rafale fighter jets;
the French national railway company SNCF along with Paris metro company RATP won a contract to run the Doha metro;
French state-owned armaments company Nexter sold 490 armored vehicles; and Airbus sold 50 narrow body jets.
“These contracts underline the closeness of our commercial ties,” Macron said during a signing ceremony in Doha on Thursday. He said the contracts were valued at about 12 billion euros ($14.1 billion).
After landing at Hamad Int’l Airport, he immediately went to 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, which is crucial to the ongoing fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and to the war in Afghanistan.
Macron smiled and shook hands with the French and American soldiers who greeted him at the base before walking into a meeting with the base’s top commanders.
Speaking to coalition soldiers, he said the next few months of battle will determine the outcome of the war against the IS group in Iraq and Syria.
“This military win does not signify the end of the operations and the end of our battle because first we need to stabilize and win peace in Iraq and Syria,” he told troops. “Next spring is decisive in the situation in Iraq.”
Macron stressed in his remarks at the air base that France wants to avoid partition in Syria and “avoid the domination of certain international elements whose interests contradict peace.”