French Minister of Armies on a visit to the UAE

French Minister of Armies on a visit to the UAE

French Minister of the Armed Forces Sebastien Lecorno met Thursday in Abu Dhabi with UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, one of France´s main allies in the Gulf.

The two countries are bound by defense agreements that resulted in the stationing in 2009 of a permanent French force of more than 650 personnel in the UAE, in addition to huge armament contracts, most notably a record contract worth 14 billion euros concluded in December 2021 to supply Abu Dhabi with 80 French Rafale combat aircraft.

The French minister told AFP that the discussions "did not touch much on new industrial contracts," noting that the talks focused more on "the ability to abide by the deadlines of contracts already concluded."

"I talked about what we are doing in France in order for our industry to respond more quickly and reliably to the replenishment of stocks" of weapons and ammunition, he added, referring to the tensions in the arms market as a result of the war in Ukraine.

The French minister stressed the importance of the military air base that the UAE placed at the disposal of France, and which the French Air Force uses in its operations in Iraq and Syria.

This base was used in particular during the bridge set up by the French Air Force to evacuate foreign nationals and Afghans from Kabul, following the Taliban´s restoration of power in Afghanistan in August 2021.

And last February, Paris pledged to help Abu Dhabi secure Emirati airspace against attacks by Yemeni Houthi rebels.

And the UAE, which is part of a military coalition fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, was attacked on January 17 by a bomb-laden drone, killing three people in Abu Dhabi.

The military base also includes a European force whose mission is to ensure maritime security, which is a major challenge in the strategic Gulf waters, especially since this shipping route connects the Gulf oil states to global markets.

The French minister reaffirmed the European powers´ commitment to ensuring the safety of maritime navigation for people and goods.

"This is part of the defense dialogue with the UAE," he added.

After his visit to the UAE, Locorno will head to Indonesia and then to India.