Saudi Arabia signs $12B worth of projects with France

Thursday, Jun 25, 2015

Saudi and French officials are finalizing negotiations on contracts for patrol ships, border guard helicopters, planes and two possible nuclear reactors worth more than $12 billion.

The announcement comes during a high-level Saudi visit to France on Wednesday, as Saudi Arabia is leading a military campaign against extremists in neighboring Yemen.

A slew of deals worth billions of euros were announced following the first “Franco-Saudi Joint Commission” meeting in Paris, led by Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Prince Mohamed bin Salman and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

France said it would look into building two nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia, which is part of some $12 billion (10.7 billion euros) in deals .

Under one of the agreements Airbus will sell 23 h-145 multipurpose helicopters to Saudi Arabia for 500 million euros ($560 million) as well as launch a feasibility study into building the reactors, Fabius said.

Fabius also mentioned the Saudi Arabian Airlines order for 50 Airbus passenger planes worth some $8 billion, first announced at last week’s Paris Air Show.

The reactor study takes on added significance given the current efforts by Saudi Arabia’s rival, Iran, to develop its own nuclear capabilities.

France has been reinforcing links with the kingdom, while Riyadh is keen to broaden its ties with Western powers beyond its traditional alliance with the United States.

Prince Salman was set to meet French President Francois Hollande later on Wednesday.

Last week, Prince Salman led a delegation to Russia, during which the kingdom signed a number of strategic military, nuclear and oil agreements.