PARIS, Oct 20, (Agencies): France will on Wednesday sign 2.5 billion euros of defence deals and provisional agreements with Kuwait, including a sale of Airbus-built military helicopters worth 1 billion euros, a source familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.
The deal for 24 Caracal heavy helicopters has been in the works since June, when French officials said it had been provisionally agreed during a visit to Kuwait by French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. Also due to be signed on Wednesday during a visit by Kuwait’s prime minister are non-binding “letters of acceptance” on deals worth 1.5 billion euros for ground vehicles built by Volvo’s Renault Trucks Defense and the modernisation of P37 patrol boats, the source said. French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday received His Highness the Prime Minister, Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah for broad talks on bilateral relations and an overview of the situation in the Gulf region and the Middle East, Hollande’s office said.
During the meeting at the Elysee Palace, Hollande told His Highness the Prime Minister of his satisfaction with the visit which he said represents a “new step” in bilateral relations and he noted that “this visit constitutes a reinforcement of our bilateral partnership.” His Highness Sheikh Jaber heads an important delegation here over the next two days to discuss relations with France in a variety of areas, including in the political, economic and finance, military, cultural and scientific and health areas. Contacts between a delegation of Kuwaiti businessmen from the Kuwaiti Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) are also taking place with their French counterparts at the MEDEF business federation. In the meeting with His Highness Sheikh Jaber on Tuesday, Hollande indicated that “agreements will be reached in several areas” during the visit.
He remarked that France and Kuwait will create “a public-private fund” aimed at financing small and intermediary enterprises and industries in “strategic sectors” here. The French leader also indicated that “a security and defence partnership” will be agreed and also an accord on “cultural and scientific cooperation”, an area that has been growing solidly in recent years. “The President of the Republic also praised the important health cooperation that is being established with Kuwait,” his office said.
On regional questions, “the President of the Republic praised the moderating action of Kuwait in the region (and) its contribution to the fight against DAESH (ISIL).” President Hollande also praised “the humanitarian role of His Highness the Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.” His Highness the Prime Minister, in a statement shortly after his arrival in Paris, said Kuwait was keen on making a good use of French technology and scientific achievements. His Highness the Prime Minister said Kuwait was always keen on developing relations and cooperation with France, and hoped meetings between Kuwaiti and French businessmen would contribute to further trade and economic collaboration.
He said Kuwait was pleased with the distinguished economic, political, cultural, security and military cooperation with France. He added that France was a supporter to peace and stability in the Middle East, as well as its desire to achieve strategic partnership with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Sheikh Jaber Mubarak said his meeting with his French counterpart Manuel Valls would be an opportunity to reaffirm the solid relations between the two countries.
His Highness the Prime Minister commended the French people’s support of Kuwait’s just causes during the Iraq invasion of Kuwait in 1990. His Highness the Premier is accompanied by First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Deputy Premier and Defense Minister Sheikh Khaled Al- Jarrah Al-Sabah, Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Anas Al-Saleh and Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al- Jarallah. The delegation also includes officials of the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI). They were received by Kuwait’s Ambassador to France Sami Al- Sulaiman, French Ambassador in Kuwait Christian Nakhle and senior officials.