GCC + france summit in KSA

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Manama: The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) advisory summit on Tuesday will be recalled in history as the summit of firsts.

It is the first summit for Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz who took the throne on January 23 following the death of King Abdullah.

It is also the first summit for Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Nayef and for Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman who were appointed on April 29 to the positions.

It is also the first GCC summit to be attended by the leader of a Western country, François Hollande, the president of France, since the alliance comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE was established in 1981.

“The GCC obviously wanted to send a very potent message to all those who blinked or doubted its capabilities,” Mohammad Jaber, a Bahraini consultant, said. “There is a new reality on the ground and everyone should learn to deal with the new facts,” he added.

The GCC has been holding two summits annually since 1999. The formal summit is held in December on a rotating basis and has a formal agenda. It lasts one or two days depending on the discussions of the issues on the agenda.

The second summit, held in May in Saudi Arabia, is equally important, but it has no formal agenda and discussions are open among the leaders. It usually lasts one day.

Although the summit on Tuesday does not have a specific agenda, the latest developments in neighbouring Yemen where five of the six GCC members are engaged in military and humanitarian operations and the summit with US president Barack Obama at Camp David on May 14 will certainly figure high on the talks.

“This is going to be a smooth summit in Riyadh because the GCC members have very convergent ideas about their shared interests,” Mohammad said. “They have the same views about the situation in Yemen even though Oman did not fully share them. They all agreed on the significance of countering the Al Houthi followers and halting the spread of the Iranian influence in Yemen, especially after the growth of Iran-supported groups in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria.”

The need for the US to understand the concerns of the GCC countries about an agreement with Iran over its nuclear programme at their expense is also a matter of consensus, he added.

“There is again a team approach on this issue as well, so the GCC countries will not have to negotiate among themselves to adopt a common stance towards the hegemonic ambitions of Iran. The position is already there. The fact that the differences with Qatar have been overcome months ago has led to a greater Gulf alignment. In a way, the GCC countries do not need to exercise or warm up ahead of their summit with Obama. They are fully ready as a team.”

While more apples of discord are marking the GCC relations with the US, the alliance’s traditional ally, due mainly to approaches to Iran’s nuclear programme, France has been moving steadily towards filling in any possible vacuum and giving much-needed assurances about its role.

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on April 12 made his third visit to the Saudi capital since he was given the diplomacy portfolio almost three years ago.

In an impressive indication by the Saudis towards France, King Salman received the French minister.

According to French senior editors, Fabius had several reassuring messages for the Saudis. He stressed that France supported the military intervention in Yemen, saying that Paris did not accept “the removal of the legitimate authority,” referring to the Al Houthi takeover.

“France’s leaders see the Saudi-led military operations in Yemen as legitimate and as a strong signal to Iran in order to bring everybody to the table of negotiations,” the French said.

President Hollande openly sided with the Saudis and the GCC states on the major issues in the region.

He was particularly enthusiastic about a military intervention in Syria, supported the military intervention in Yemen and opposed a deal with Iran that did not give enough guarantees to the GCC states.

“Nobody saw it coming. Nobody could predict that the socialist president of France would side with the GCC,” Christophe Ayad, the editor of international affairs at French daily Le Monde, wrote.

“In an increasingly complex Middle East marked by politico-religious fault lines, François Hollande is one of the few leaders to take a stance and without hesitation. He has chosen the camp of the moderate Sunni Arab regimes, led by Saudi Arabia.”

Mustapha Tossa, another French journalist, attributes the “honeymoon” between the GCC and Hollande to “a logical conclusion of conditions and policies.”

“In his frantic desire to conclude an agreement with the Iranians before the end of his term, Obama superbly ignored the concerns of his Sunni allies in the region that Iran would take advantage of the accord to consolidate its power and domination,” he said.

“Since his arrival at the Elysee and unlike his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy who considered Qatar as the political engine of the region, François Hollande has rebalanced the game in favour of Saudi Arabia, restoring the lustre of its regional leadership. This approach has been accompanied by three major positions that eventually got him the unwavering support of the Saudis. His intractable position against [Syrian president] Bashar Al Assad, his strong demands to slow the compromise on Iran’s nuclear programme and his political and logistical support for the war against the Houthis in Yemen,” he wrote.

GCC summit to showcase stronger unity, determination | GulfNews.com
 
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KSA and France: Iran nuclear deal must be no threat to region


RIYADH: 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 neighbors, 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.
“France and Saudi Arabia confirmed the necessity to reach a robust, lasting, verifiable, undisputed and binding deal with Iran,” Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Hollande said in a statement after meeting on Monday.
“This agreement must not destabilize the security and stability of the region nor threaten the security and stability of Iran’s neighbors,” the statement said.
Hollande met King Salman for an hour after dinner at his personal palace on Monday, and the Saudi Cabinet on Tuesday. The two leaders tackled Iran’s role in the conflicts in Yemen and Syria and reiterated that there was no future for President Bashar Assad of Syria after four years of civil war there.
Hollande was to address Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders shortly to reassure them that France would not accept a bad deal with Iran as the powers try to meet a June 30 deadline.
In the negotiations with six world powers, Iran wants financial sanctions on it removed in exchange for restraints on its disputed nuclear activity.
“They (GCC) have a real fear that when sanctions are lifted, Iran will be able to finance all its proxies across the region,” said a senior French diplomat. Iran backs Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen and Assad in his battle with Sunni Muslim insurgents.
Hollande’s visit to Riyadh marked a period in which France has been able to nurture new links with the Gulf region in the face of perceived disengagement on the part of traditional ally the United States.
The new Saudi foreign minister, Adel Al-Jubeir, told Reuters that France was a historical ally and trading partner that had proved its reliability to the Gulf.
“We have common views with regard to the challenges in the region today with Syria, Yemen, Iraq, terrorism and of course Iran’s nuclear program, and there are very large commercial and military ties between our two countries.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry changed his schedule at the last minute this week to travel to Riyadh on Wednesday, looking to finalize plans for a summit at Camp David on May 13-14 between Gulf leaders and US President Barack Obama.
US officials say they are seeking the best possible settlement with Iran and have cautioned that France’s position privately is not as tough as it is publicly.

KSA and France: Iran nuclear deal must be no threat to region | Arab News
 
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Deputy Crown Prince Meets French President at Al-Diriyah Conference Palace


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@Gabriel92 thats the important meeting. my guess there will be a navy and air force deal
 
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@Gabriel92 thats the important meeting. my guess there will be a navy and air force deal
An air force deal ? I highly doubt it,you guys have an air force that is superior than modern,new F15SA,Typhoon etc..
Naval deal why not,but i highly doubt that there will be any deal,it's more like a symbolic visit,to show that France is a reliable ally to the GCC etc.
 
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An air force deal ? I highly doubt it,you guys have an air force that is superior than modern,new F15SA,Typhoon etc..
Naval deal why not,but i highly doubt that there will be any deal,it's more like a symbolic visit,to show that France is a reliable ally to the GCC etc.
A joint venture maybe, cooperation on other fields. Not necessarily for KSA but all GCC.
 
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An air force deal ? I highly doubt it,you guys have an air force that is superior than modern,new F15SA,Typhoon etc..
Naval deal why not,but i highly doubt that there will be any deal,it's more like a symbolic visit,to show that France is a reliable ally to the GCC etc.
just watched the conference.. no details they talked about general business deals in all fields including defense.
the deal is worth 33 billion dollars as they mentioned last time and they have other meetings to come. its not finalized.
the visit also is symbolic as you said. specially that tomorrow Kerry is coming to saudi. and later the GCC leaders are going to US.
by air force i meant more MRTT tankers. i heard saudi is interested in buying more. we have 6.
anyway i dont think they will announce anything specific during this trip.
 
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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 defence 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.

"If these projects are finalised, then that will represent several dozen billions of euros," he told reporters, adding the first deals should be realised "quickly."

"We feel there is the desire by the new team to go quickly in its choices."


Declining to give specific company details, he said talks in the defence sector were at an advanced stage. He confirmed that some of those deals involved naval projects.

Hollande said some of the contracts could be confirmed as early as June, with more to be announced at a Franco-Saudi business forum in October.

"We want to act quickly," he told a news conference in Riyadh. "We are here to set up a long-lasting strategic partnership."

Hollande was in Riyadh, his fourth visit since becoming president, at the invitation of Saudi Arabia to attend a Gulf leaders summit. Over the last three years, France has been nurturing its links with Gulf states diplomatically and it is beginning to see commercial rewards.

France on Monday signed a $7 billion (4.60 billion pounds) contract with Qatar for Rafale fighter jets and has already won about $15 billion of defence contracts in the region over the last year.

Fabius said other sectors included energy, where Total is interested in a solar energy deal, and a feasibility study for nuclear power.

Talks were also held with the chief executive of Saudi Arabian Airlines on Tuesday concerning a possible new order for plane supplier Airbus, Fabius said. Rail infrastructure negotiations for Jeddah and the Holy cities of Mecca and Medina were also in the works, he said.

"Things accelerated during this visit. These are extremely important projects. Our partnership is moving up a gear," Fabius said, adding that he was chairing a steering committee with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salam to oversee the contracts.


France, Saudi seeking to seal quickly billions of euros in deals - World | The Star Online
 

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