You are here: Home » PTI Stories » National » News
Business Standard

Saudi agrees joint venture with French firm to boost navy

AFP  |  Abu Dhabi 

Saudi Arabia's and a French government-majority firm signed an agreement Sunday on a joint venture to boost the kingdom's navy, amid calls to halt weapons sales to over it role in

The memorandum of understanding between (SAMI) and France's is aimed at providing the oil-rich Gulf state's navy with "state-of-the-art systems", a statement said.

"Through design, construction, and maintenance activities, the joint venture will contribute significantly to further enhancing the capabilities and readiness of our Royal Saudi Naval Forces," SAMI boss said.

A for -- which is owned by the French state and French multinational giant -- refused to give any more details.

French lawmakers and rights groups have repeatedly called on to suspend all arms deals to because of the war in Yemen, where some 10,000 people have been killed since a Saudi-led coalition intervened in 2015.

is battling on the side of the internationally recognised government against Iran-aligned Huthi rebels, in a conflict that has seen all sides accused of potential war crimes.

The this week voted overwhelmingly to end American involvement in Saudi Arabia's war effort in neighbouring Yemen, dealing a rebuke to and his alliance with the kingdom.

France, one of the world's biggest arms exporters, has sold equipment to Riyadh and fellow coalition member the UAE -- notably Caesar artillery guns and ammunition, sniper rifles and armoured vehicles.

OPEC kingpin has been one of the world's top arms buyers for the past several years.

But in 2017, the kingdom's set up SAMI to manufacture arms locally with the fund expecting it to become one of the world's top 25 defence companies by 2030.

-- which was previously called DCNS -- has been embroiled in a long-running graft scandal over the 2002 sale of two Scorpene submarines to for $1.2 billion.

The submarine maker is alleged to have paid more than 114 million euros (USD 128 million) in kickbacks to a shell company linked to a close associate of ousted Malaysian leader

A French investigation launched in 2010 has already led to four French executives involved in the deal being charged. They all deny wrongdoing.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, February 17 2019. 20:05 IST