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May 19, 2015

Rugby-France recall veteran flyhalf Michalak for World Cup

PARIS, May 19 (Reuters) – Experienced Toulon flyhalf Frederic Michalak was the surprise inclusion in France coach Philippe Saint-Andre’s provisional squad for this year’s World Cup.

Michalak, who was recalled with fellow flyhalf Francois Trinh-Duc, was dropped after last year’s tour to Australia, but returns for his third World Cup.

May 5, 2015

France, Saudi seeking to seal quickly billions of euros in deals

RIYADH (Reuters) – France is in talks to agree billions of euros worth of contracts in Saudi Arabia that could be completed quickly, ranging from defense to civil aviation, transport and energy, the French government said on Tuesday.

Speaking after President Francois Hollande held talks with key ministers of Saudi Arabia’s new cabinet, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the two countries had set up a joint committee to seal some 20 projects over the coming months.

May 5, 2015

French fighter jets find takers in a worried world

RIYADH (Reuters) – After failing for years to win a single order for the Dassault-built Rafale fighter jet, France has scored a string of multi-billion-euro wins in recent weeks and is on a quest for more.

Global appetite for the jets has surged as a result of the United States’ diminishing influence in the Arab world along with wider security concerns over the rise of Islamic State insurgents – which Paris is more than happy to assuage. Egypt, India and Qatar have all just signed contracts.

May 5, 2015

France, Saudi Arabia: Iran nuclear deal must be verifiable, no threat to region

RIYADH, May 5 (Reuters) – France and Saudi Arabia believe
that any future nuclear accord between Iran and six major powers
must be robust, verifiable and no threat to Tehran’s neighbours,
the two countries said ahead of a summit in Riyadh on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia invited French President Francois Hollande,
whose country is deemed to have the toughest stance among the
six world powers negotiating with Iran, to Riyadh to discuss
regional issues with Gulf Arab leaders who fear a rapprochement
with Tehran could further inflame the region.

May 4, 2015

France, Saudi Arabia: Iran nuclear deal must avoid destabilizing region

RIYADH (Reuters) – France and Saudi Arabia believe that any future deal between Iran and six major powers must ensure not to destabilise the region further and threaten Iran’s neighbours, the two countries said ahead of a summit in Riyadh on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia invited French President Francois Hollande, whose country is deemed to have a tough stance in Iran nuclear negotiations, to Riyadh to discuss regional issues with Gulf Arab leaders who fear a rapprochement with Tehran could lead to further detribalization in the region.

May 4, 2015

France, Qatar sign Rafale deal, Hollande hails Gulf ties

DOHA (Reuters) – France and Qatar signed a 6.3 billion euro ($7.02 billion) deal on Monday for the sale of 24 Rafale fighter jets, an accord President Francois Hollande hailed as a mark of Gulf Arab regard for French regional strategy including its firm line on Iran.

The contract – the third this year for Dassault AVMD.PA after deals to sell Rafale jets to Egypt and India – also includes MBDA missiles, and the training of 36 Qatari pilots and 100 technicians by the French military.

May 1, 2015

Activists bare breasts to disrupt Le Pen’s May Day speech in Paris

PARIS (Reuters) – Three bare-breasted women making Nazi salutes disrupted a May Day speech by French far-right leader Marine Le Pen as she accused her political rivals of failing to tackle immigration and radical Islam.

The women from the Femen activist group, with “Heil Le Pen” and “Stop Fascism” written on their breasts, chanted anti-National Front slogans from the balcony of a five-star hotel room overlooking the stage, to boos from the crowd.

May 1, 2015

Iran stance and regional policy bring French leader Gulf Arab rewards

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s tough line in talks with Iran and a similar analysis to Gulf Arab states on regional crises has sealed strategic new links in the Middle East that will be cemented when President Francois Hollande attends a regional leaders’ summit next week.

Those ties, which Paris has sought to nurture since Hollande came to power in 2012 – were highlighted on Thursday when Qatar agreed to buy French-made Rafale fighter jets in a 6.3-billion-euro ($7 billion) deal.

Apr 30, 2015

France and Qatar seal $7 billion Rafale fighter jet deal

PARIS (Reuters) – Qatar has agreed to buy 24 Dassault Aviation-built Rafale fighter jets in a deal worth 6.3 billion euros ($7 billion), the French government said on Thursday, as the Gulf Arab state looks to boost its military firepower amid regional instability.

Tensions in the Middle East with conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Libya, as well as concerns of Iran’s growing influence in the area, have fueled a desire across Sunni Gulf Arab states to modernize their military hardware.

Apr 29, 2015

France lifts defence budget to tackle multiple threats

PARIS, April 29 (Reuters) – France will increase its defence
budget by 3.8 billion euros ($4.2 billion) over four years from
2016 to ensure the army can tackle problems at home and maintain
missions abroad, notably in Africa and the Middle East,
President Francois Hollande said.

“France is facing big threats internally and externally,”
Hollande told reporters on Wednesday after a defence cabinet
meeting. “Security, protection and independence are principles
that are not negotiable.”