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Saudi Arabia, France to sign $12b deals

Paris to study building nuclear reactors in kingdom

Paris: Saudi Arabia and France announced contracts worth some $12 billion (about Dh44 billion) in Paris on Wednesday, which included the possibility of France building nuclear reactors in the kingdom.

“We are about to sign deals worth $12 billion,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told a news conference ahead of a ceremony between President Francois Hollande and Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.

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

A slew of deals worth billions of euros were announced following the first “Franco-Saudi Joint Commission” meeting.

Safety training

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

The study for two European Pressurised Reactors —which France considers the safest and most advanced in the world — takes on added significance given the current efforts by Iran to develop its own nuclear capabilities.

In addition, France will sign an agreement to train the Saudis on nuclear safety and the treatment of nuclear waste.

Fabius also announced a “commitment” from Saudi Arabia to acquire about 30 patrol boats for its navy. “It represents the creation of many jobs and hundreds of millions of euros,” Fabius added.

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