French Press: Saudi Arabia Bought French Tanks in Return for Hush-up over Princess Drug Scandal
In a report by The Jerusalem Post Sunday, the Israeli daily cited French press reports as linking the sale of a large number of French tanks to Saudi Arabia and a reported case of a Saudi princess’s thwarted attempt to smuggle in the European country a huge shipment of cocaine.
Moreover, according to the French weekly “Le Monde du Renseignement,” this episode, seemingly embarrassing to the French government, has been largely kept from the public to prevent further complications with the Saudi royal family
The French weekly L'Express, first to disclose the story, reported Saudi Princess Latifa Bint Fahd flew two tons of cocaine with her private jet into Le Bourget Airport, located roughly 10 kilometers north of Paris, on May 16th of last year. Princess Latifa is the daughter of the Saudi monarch, King Fahd. The cocaine was suspected to have been produced in Colombia, said the report.
L'Express had said the powdery shipments were allegedly transferred to a Parisian suburb, where they were to be reprocessed and refined by a Colombian chemist, flown in from Colombia in a separate flight. In a sting operation, the French police uncovered the drug cache, and only later established the link to the princess's airplane.
According to the weekly, one of the cocaine-filled suitcases located in the plane's luggage compartment was identified as being among Princess Latifa's personal belongings. Also reported to be involved is King Fahd's royal court chief of staff Mohammed al-Nowaisser, who flew on the princess's jet. The plane flew in from Jeddah, stopping first in Monaco.
Le Monde du Renseignement alleges further that Lebanon's former prime minister and Saudi-based business tycoon Rafik Hariri was called in by both parties to broker a deal between French President Jacques Chirac and the Saudi royal family. The agreement was presumably intended to quiet rumors embarrassing to King Fahd, while serving French interests. , according to the report, which cited no reaction from the French or the Saudi governments.
It added that when a settlement was finally struck late last June, Saudi Arabia reportedly agreed to purchase 355 French Leclerc battle tanks with an option to acquire 150 more.
Since 1996, France's Leclerc has been competing against the American M1 Abrams and the British Challenger 2 to supply Saudia Arabia with advanced main battle tanks, said The Jerusalem Post – Albawaba.com
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