Qatar’s Emir and French President Emmanuel Macron signed 12 billion Euros ($14 billion) in deals during the French President’s visit to Doha last Thursday, including the purchase of 12 French-made Dassault Rafale fighter jets with the option of buying 36 more.
The agreement brings the total number of Rafale the Gulf Arab country will have to 36.
Macron traveled with Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who in 2015 as Defense Minister helped negotiate a deal with Qatar to buy 24 Rafale fighter jets. As part of a deal negotiated two years ago, Qatar exercised its right to purchase 12 aircraft.
France and Qatar also agreed that Qatar would purchase 490 VBCI armored vehicles from French firm Nexter, and signed a transportation deal with France’s national rail authority to manage and maintain Doha’s planned metro, as well as a light rail system north of Doha.
Qatar announced it would additionally buy 50 Airbus twin-engine A321s with option of buying 30 more.
During his one-day trip to Qatar, Macron visited the vast al-Udeid air base, which hosts U.S.-led international coalition operations against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and the war in Afghanistan.
The air base is home to some 10,000 American troops and the forward headquarters of the U.S. military’s Central Command. France also has a contingent of several hundred French troops in Qatar as part of the 1,200 French forces active in the region in the battle against the IS group.
Macron smiled and shook hands with the French and American soldiers who greeted him at the base before walking into a meeting with the base’s top commanders, ABC news reported.
Speaking to coalition soldiers, he said the next few months of battle will determine the outcome of the war against the IS group in Iraq in Syria.
“This military win does not signify the end of the operations and the end of our battle because first we need to stabilize and win peace in Iraq and Syria. Next spring is decisive in the situation in Iraq,” he told troops.
Macron also stressed in his remarks at the air base that France wants to avoid partition in Syria as well as “the domination of certain international elements whose interests contradict peace.”
Later, during his joint press conference with Qatar’s Emir, he noted the importance of maintaining the Iranian nuclear accord that France helped negotiate alongside other world powers. He also called for an internationally defined framework to contain Iran’s regional ambitions and “ways to put limits” on Iran’s presence in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.