France discusses supplying fighter jets to Qatar
DOHA (Reuters) - French companies have made offers on supplying military equipment to Qatar, including equipping its air force with Rafale fighter planes made by Dassault, President Francois Hollande said on Sunday.
France is the top military supplier to the Gulf state and Hollande said he had discussed future supplies of military equipment with Qatari officials.
"The companies which accompanied me explained the quality of their products and in particular, on Rafale, the opportunity there would be for Qatar to buy these planes," he told a news conference in the Qatari capital Doha.
He said talks were continuing and did not give further details.
Qatar said in 2011 it wanted to replace its fleet of 12 Mirage fighter jets, possibly buying 24 to 36 new aircraft and in addition to Rafale is looking at the Eurofighter Typhoon and various rival U.S. aircraft.
The French president is in Doha for a meeting of Western and Arab countries over the two-year-old Syrian conflict.
Earlier on Sunday Qatar's state news agency QNA quoted Hollande as saying that France had made new proposals for air, land and naval defence contracts and that he was confident of progress.
Paris has close commercial and political ties with Qatar and also hopes to use Hollande's visit to push France's commercial interests in the country and encourage investment into France, where gas-rich Qatar already has assets estimated to be worth about $10 billion.
"France will always be there for Qatar to ensure its defence and security," Hollande told QNA.
(Reporting by Julien Ponthus; Writing by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Greg Mahlich)
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