French defence minister in UAE

20th September 2015, Comments 0 comments

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday for talks expected to focus on Yemen and the fight against jihadists, a diplomatic source said.

Since September last year, French warplanes based at Al-Dhafra airbase near Abu Dhabi have been flying missions targeting the Islamic State group in Iraq.

On Wednesday, Le Drian said France would also launch air strikes against IS in Syria "in the coming weeks".

He went straight into talks with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, deputy chief of the UAE armed forces.

Their discussions were also expected to centre on Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition in which the UAE is a member has waged an air campaign since March against Iran-backed Shiite Huthi rebels.

In early September, a missile strike on a coalition base in Yemen's Marib province killed 67 coalition soldiers, including 52 from the UAE.

On Monday, Le Drian is expected to visit Qatar.

© 2015 AFP

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