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Qatar buys French-made jets amid regional tensions

Monitoring Desk

DOHA: French President Emmanuel Macron has backed mediation efforts led by Kuwait to end a six-month blockade imposed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

“With regards to situation in the Gulf, I want to see a promise of reconciliation between its members, as I have said since the beginning of the crisis,” he said on Thursday at a joint press conference in Doha with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

Qatar’s emir reiterated the need for open talks between the parties to resolve the crisis, but said sovereignty was not subject to compromise.

“We need to sort out the problems but not at the expense of our dignity and our sovereignty,” he said alongside the French leader.

“We cannot accept intervention in our internal affairs. Qatari people have the right to know the reasons behind the blockade and the violence.”

Sheikh Tamim also said that Qatar has been committed to fighting terrorism.

The two countries also signed commercial contracts worth around 12bn euros ($14.15bn). Qatar has agreed to buy 12 more Rafale fighter planes from French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation and will employ France’s Suez to dredge and clean Qatar’s lagoon. The Gulf country has also retained France’s RATP and SNCF to build and operate a metro system in Doha, the Qatari capital.

“In total, it amounts to nearly 12 billion euros which was signed today and which underlines the closeness of our relations,” Macron said.

Macron sealed a multi-billion dollar military and transport contract in Qatar on Thursday amid mounting tensions in the Middle East.

The deals include the sale of Rafale fighter jets and hundreds of armored vehicles, Reuters said.

Qatar agreed to firm up an option from 2015 to buy 12 more Dassault Aviation-made Rafale fighters, and said it may purchase a further 36.

The country had already bought 24 planes for around $7.11 billion, which included missiles.

Doha will also commit to buying 490 armored vehicles from defense firm Nexter, sending a signal to its neighbors, which cut political and trade links with Qatar in June.

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