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France sells 24 Rafale fighter jets to Qatar

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PARIS (AP) — France has announced it will sell 24 Rafale fighter jets to Qatar in a 6.3 billion euro ($7 billion) deal.

The agreement is to be signed Monday in Qatar's capital, Doha, in the presence of the French president, Francois Hollande, presidency services announced Thursday.

With this sale, French arms exports already exceed 15 billion euros ($16.8 billion) this year, a defense official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Qatar becomes the third buyer of France's delta-winged Rafale, manufactured by Dassault Aviation.

India announced plans to buy 36 Rafale jets earlier this month and Egypt bought 24 of them in February.

"It's almost 100 Rafale that are going to be delivered within the next few years", Hollande said during a visit in the city of Brest, in the west of France. "That makes a lot of work, a lot of jobs, a lot of economic benefits".

Discussions have also been going on for months with the United Arab Emirates for another potential Rafale deal.

Hollande is due to visit Qatar and Saudi Arabia next week. He is the guest of honor of the Gulf cooperation council summit in Riyadh, where security issues in the region are going to be discussed.

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