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Qatar to firm up interest in buying French Rafale fighter planes

media A Dassault Rafale fighter aircraft. Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

Qatar says it is to spend 15 billion euros on upgrading its military equipment while French company Dassault Aviation hopes to secure a contract for Rafale fighter jets.

Qatar's emir Sheikh Tamim Ben Hamad Al Thani is to meet French President François Hollande in Paris on Monday to discuss politics in the Middle East and bilateral economic ties.

The Sheikh will be accompanied by business leaders, including from Qatar Airways.

One of the main issues on the agenda is expected to be the procurement of military equipment.

According to economic daily La Tribune, the Emir might announce during his visit in France that Qatar has opted for the Rafale and will open exclusive talks with Dassault Aviation.

"I think we can be reasonably optimistic, in fact very optimistic about this contract", told RFI Benoit Dessaugé, director general of Dassault Aviation. "If Qatar signs this contract, it would be an excellent year for Dassault aviation. Now, our company president always says that a contract doesn't exist until is it signed and the first payment is received", said Dessaugé.

Negotiations would last about a year but the contract would be less complex than the one signed with India in January 2012, reports La Tribune.

The contract is of vital importance to the Dassault Group, which faces heavy competition with the European Eurofighter.

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