France, Saudi Arabia to boost defence links

4th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

RIYADH, Sept 3, 2006 (AFP) - France and Saudi Arabia agreed Sunday to set up technical committees to boost defence links during a visit by French defence Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie to the oil-rich kingdom, a member of her delegation said.

RIYADH, Sept 3, 2006 (AFP) - France and Saudi Arabia agreed Sunday to set up technical committees to boost defence links during a visit by French defence Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie to the oil-rich kingdom, a member of her delegation said.

Alliot-Marie met for more than an hour with King Abdullah in the Red Sea city of Jeddah after talks with Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, who is also defense minister, the source told AFP, requesting anonymity.

The discussions also focused on the situation in Lebanon and Iran's nuclear programme, he said.

"We decided to set up bilateral technical committees to boost defence cooperation, including the delivery of French military equipment to Saudi Arabia as envisaged in July" when two military accords were signed during a visit by Prince Sultan to Paris, the source said.

The committees will also handle issues such as "training military personnel and technology transfers," he said.

The military deals signed in July paved the way for sales of French tanks and fighter jets worth billions of dollars to Riyadh, the French presidency said at the time.

But "no contracts were (finalized)" Sunday, and Alliot-Marie's trip was not aimed at signing deals, the French source said.

The French minister delivered to King Abdullah a message from President Jacques Chirac dealing with regional issues and the reinforcement of defense cooperation, he said.

She discussed with Saudi leaders the situation in Lebanon, and both countries expressed a shared "commitment to assist Lebanon in terms of reconstruction and support for the Lebanese army," the source said.

French troops will comprise a major contingent in an enlarged UN force in Lebanon tasked with helping enforce the August 14 ceasefire that halted a month of fighting between Israel and Shiite Hezbollah militants.

The French-Saudi talks also covered Iran's nuclear activities, the source indicated.

"We share the same concern about the Iranian nuclear programme," he said.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article