France's Macron nears UAE Rafale fighter jet deal
France will sign several major deals with the United Arab Emirates on Friday, with two sources saying Paris could finally seal a multi-billion dollar Rafale warplane sale, as it looks to deepen economic and political ties with Abu Dhabi, Trend reports citing Reuters.
French President Emmanuel Macron begins a two-day trip to the Gulf on Friday, and will also visit Qatar and Saudi Arabia. His visit comes at a time when Gulf Arab states have voiced uncertainty about the United States' focus on the region even as they seek more weapons from their key security ally.
The French leader has forged a good relationship with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (MBZ) with investments flowing between both countries. Paris has a permanent military base in the Emirati capital.
The sources said Abu Dhabi could buy about 60 fighter jets, although they cautioned the deal was not finalised. This would be the biggest bulk purchase of the Dassault-made Rafale, other than by the French army, and comes after deals in Greece, Egypt and Croatia this year.