France’s Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian will arrive in Qatar on Saturday to discuss the ongoing Gulf crisis with officials here and to strengthen bilateral relations with Qatar.
Le Drian’s visit to Qatar is part of a two-day trip to the GCC where he will also meet with officials of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE, as part of France’s efforts to ease tension between Qatar and its Gulf neighbours.
According to the France Diplomatie website, Le Drian “wants to hear these countries’ views and offer France’s contribution to the mediation effort led by Kuwait, which has our full support. This approach is in the same spirit as the efforts of our American, British and German partners, with whom the minister for Europe and foreign affairs is in constant contact.”
“Mr Le Drian will remind his interlocutors of the negative consequences of this crisis on the diplomatic, political, economic and security levels. He will reaffirm France’s priority of strengthening the fight against terrorism and, in particular, improving ways to combat its financing and the propagation of terrorist ideas and projects. He will underscore how important it is for the Gulf Co-operation Council to take united action against this scourge and to collectively constitute a force for stability in the region,” it added.
Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the French National Day reception held Friday in Doha, French ambassador Eric Chevallier said: “We have a very deeply-rooted relationship with Qatar and this is something we want to continue for years and decades to come. We want to continue to strengthen our bilateral relations with Qatar.”
During the ceremony, Chevallier said in his opening speech that France will continue to work for the reinforcement of its bilateral relations with Qatar “in all domains”.
He said this includes “strategic, security and defence-related challenges, including those pertaining to the fight against terrorism and its financing – to culture, education, science, research, economy and sports.”
The ambassador also emphasised the need for the creation of “a common space”, as he cited the launching of the La Maison de la France last year.
“This ‘common roof’ aims at joining, under one legal entity, the different bodies of the French community present in Qatar, while keeping their full autonomy. I am glad that the embassy had actively contributed to its creation and I wish good luck to those who took in charge its destiny,” Chevallier explained.
He also stressed the role of the recently inaugurated North Oil Company, a joint venture (JV) between Qatar Petroleum and Total, in strengthening economic relations between France and Qatar.
The JV will see investments of $3.5bn over the next five years in Qatar’s Al Shaheen oilfield.
“One year ago, I had mentioned before you the agreement between Total and Qatar Petroleum for the co-exploration of Al-Shaheen petrol field. I mention it again today since it takes effect as of this day…following an official ceremony held three days ago in the presence of HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of Qatar, as well as the CEOs of Qatar Petroleum and Total.
“Though this agreement is iconic and structuring, just as was the Rafale fighter jets agreement, yet it is far from summarising our economic relations. Every day, every week, and every month shows that Qatar and France are major economic partners one to another whether in terms of commerce or major contracts and investments.”
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