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France signs deals worth $10 billion with Saudi Arabia

Staff writer |
France announced a series of deals worth 10 billion euros ($11.4 billion) with Saudi Arabia, reinforcing growing ties between the two countries.

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Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced the deals, some still to be finalised, on Twitter during a visit to Riyadh. He said they showed that his government was "mobilised for our companies and employment".

The agreements include contracts and letters of intent between the two countries, whose economic and political ties have grown under President Francois Hollande.

One agreement was a Saudi order for 30 patrol boats, while another will create a Saudi fund for investment in small- and medium-sized French businesses.

The lifting of an embargo on French beef, imposed over "mad cow" disease, will allow 37 French firms to resume exports to the Gulf kingdom, Valls' office said.

Other deals under discussion could cover telecommunications and surveillance satellites, urban transport and energy.

France is the third-largest investor in Saudi Arabia, and Valls said he expects additional deals to be finalised.

"We don't doubt for one instance that these letters of intent will be confirmed," said Valls.

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