French defense minister holds talks in UAE after end of tanks row

Published June 10th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

French Defense Minister Alain Richard met Emirati armed forces chief Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan in Abu Dhabi Saturday, June 9, after the two countries settled a row over a $3.4-billion tanks deal. 

 

The official news agency WAM said Richard and Sheikh Mohammad discussed "military issues of common interest" in a meeting also attended by senior army officers of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 

 

The visit was expected to last less than 24 hours, but Richard's program was not announced. 

 

The row was based on what the UAE termed a "difference in interpretation" of a 1993 contract with the French arms manufacturer Giat Industries to supply 436 Leclerc main battle tanks, around 100 of which have still to be handed over. 

 

A clause in the original contract allowed the UAE to demand that the tanks should be upgraded with the latest technological developments as they came off the production line. 

 

The UAE suspended taking deliveries until the row was sorted out, while Giat explained that the cost of the extra work far exceeded initial estimates. 

 

But an Emirati defense spokesman announced at the end of May that the two sides had reached an "acceptable agreement" and delivery of the tanks was to resume soon. ― (AFP, Abu Dhabi) 

 

© Agence France Presse 2001

© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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