DOHA (Reuters) - France has made new offers on supplying military equipment to Qatar and is optimistic about the outcome, French President Francois Hollande said in an interview published on Sunday.
France is the top military supplier to the Gulf state and has been hoping to sign a contract to equip Qatar’s air force with Rafale fighter planes made by Dassault.
“We supply light and modern arms to the Qatari army,” Hollande told Qatar’s state news agency QNA, according to a transcript.
“I made new proposals for air, land and naval defense. I am quite confident that we will make progress in each of these areas,” he said, without giving details.
The French president is in Doha for a meeting of Western and Arab countries which are opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and seeking an end to the two-year-old Syrian conflict.
Paris has close commercial and political ties with Qatar and also hopes to use Hollande’s visit to push France’s commercial interests in the country and encourage investment into France, where gas-rich Qatar already has assets of about $10 billion.
“France will always be there for Qatar to ensure its defense and security,” Hollande said.
Reporting by Julien Ponthus; Writing by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Pravin Char