‘We’ll give you what you need’: Hollande to Saudis

'We'll give you what you need': Hollande to Saudis
Hollande wields a sword on his trip to Saudi Arabia. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP
French President Francois Hollande sought to boost trade with Saudi Arabia on Monday as he wrapped up a two-day visit to the oil-rich kingdom. The French head of state told Saudi business chiefs "we can provide you with what you want".

Leading a delegation of four ministers and 30 top French business figures, Hollande told a joint business gathering that France's industries can meet Saudi needs.

"We can provide you with what you want," he said, highlighting France's capabilities in the energy, transport, and food sectors.

He said current bilateral trade, amounting to some eight billion euros ($11 billion) is "a lot, but not enough," even "if this doubles in 10 years."

French exports to Saudi Arabia in 2013 amounted to three billion euros ($4.14 billion), keeping the balance tipped in favour of Saudi Arabia on the back of its oil exports.

Hollande insisted, however, that 2013 had been a year of 'big successes" for French companies in the Saudi market.

"Total has built the world's largest refinery for (Saudi oil giant) Aramco, Sanofi has opened a plant to produce insulin, Veolia manages water in Riyadh and will build a desalination plant," Hollande said.

The French leader on Sunday held talks with King Abdullah on escalating tensions in the Middle East, with a focus on Lebanon and Syria.

The monarch highlighted a "convergence" of positions between the two countries on several issues, a member of Hollande's entourage said.

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