French economic minister Lagarde in Saudi for talks

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French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde was due in Saudi Arabia later on Saturday for talks on economic ties including promoting France's TGV high-speed trains for a Medina-Mecca link.

RIYADH - French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde was due in Saudi Arabia later on Saturday for talks on economic ties including promoting France's TGV high-speed trains for a Medina-Mecca link.

Lagarde was expected to meet the Saudi ministers for trade, transport, oil and finance, France's embassy in Riyadh said.

In an interview with Al-Hayat newspaper published on Saturday, she said she would be lobbying for French companies Alstom and SNCF to take part in the planned Medina-Mecca high speed train project.

Alstom would supply the trains and SNCF manage operations.

"The value of the project is 1.5 billion euros (2.0 billion dollars), attractive for the two French companies and for France," the minister told Al-Hayat.

Lagarde was likewise expected to discuss the state of the global energy market with oil officials in Saudi Arabia, which has the world's largest petroleum reserves.

Also on the agenda will be promoting France's expertise in nuclear energy, as Saudi Arabia mulls nuclear plants to power its energy-intensive desalinisation plants.

Lagarde is to travel on to Qatar on Monday.

AFP / Expatica

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