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French minister touts arms contracts in Abu Dhabi, India

media French Defence Minister Florence Parly (C) with Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier (L) and Reliance Group chair Anil Ambani in Nagpur, India, 27 October AFP/Money Sharma

French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly arrived in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, following a two-day visit to India. In both countries she sought contracts for French arms manufacturers and laid the groundwork for forthcoming visits by President Emmanuel Macron.

In Abu Dhabi Parly was to meet Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, to discuss the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Libya.

France has a bilateral defence accord with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), of which Abu Dhabi is part.

The minister was also due to visit some of the 700 French troops stationed there as part of the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State armed group in Iraq and Syria.

Macron is to visit Abu Dhabi on 8 November for the opening of the Louvre museum’s branch there.

Parly was also expected to press for progress in negotiations with Abu Dhabi for the sale of French company Dassault's Rafale jet fighters.

Pitching Rafales, helicopters, submarine to India

She also lobbied for India to buy more Rafales, following its purchase of 36 in 2016, as well as pitching for Airbus's Panther helicopters and a new submarine.

India is carrying out a major modernisaiton of its armed forces, attracting interest from arms manufacturers worldiwide.

But it is making new contracts conditional on local production, as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's plan to work towards self-sufficiency in defence.

Dassault has worked with India's Reliance Group on the production of the Rafales.

Macron is to visit India on 8-10 December.

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