The France-Saudi Arabia relationship is about to get $12 billion stronger

France saudi hollandeReutersFrench President Francois Hollande, right, is greeted by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman upon his arrival at Riyadh airport, Saudi Arabia, Monday, May 4, 2015.

France and Saudi Arabia plan to sign $US12 billion of deals on Wednesday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters during a visit by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in deals highlighting Paris’ growing commercial ties in the Middle East.

The contracts include 23 Airbus H145 helicopters worth $US500 million, Fabius told reporters.

The H145, previously known as the EC145, is a light twin-engined helicopter typically used for emergency services or border patrols.

A military version is used by the U.S. Army.

The Saudi defence minister said he was still discussing the price for a contract for French naval patrol boats, built by DCNS. Saudi Arabia also plans to sign a feasibility study for two EPR reactors built by Areva, Fabius added.

The contracts, the latest to be agreed between Paris and a Gulf Arab state, come after French President Francois Hollande was invited by Gulf Arab leaders in May to address their summit in Saudi Arabia, a rare privilege for a foreign head of state.

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This article originally appeared at Reuters. Copyright 2015. Follow Reuters on Twitter.

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