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PARIS — Qatar will sign contracts for 24 Dassault Rafale fighter jets and MBDA missiles May 4, President François Hollande's office said Thursday.

The Rafale deal, which includes the missiles, training for 36 pilots and some 100 mechanics, is worth €6.3 billion ($7.1 billion), a Defense Ministry official said.

"At the invitation of Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, the president of the Republic will go to Doha on May 4 to attend the signing of contracts between Dassault Aviation and MBDA, and Qatar, as well as the intergovernmental agreement which sets the framework for cooperation between our two countries," the president's Elysée office said in a statement.

Hollande and al-Thani talked Wednesday and the latter confirmed Qatar will acquire 24 Rafales, the president's office said.

First delivery is due in 2017, daily Le Monde reported.

The Qatari deal follows Egypt and India after many fallow years for the French twin-engine fighter.

With the Qatar contract, France has sold more than €15 billion of arms this year, the defense official said. A total of 84 Rafales have been sold on the foreign market.

Egypt in February signed a deal for €5.2 billion of weapons comprising 24 Rafales, a DCNS multimission frigate and missiles, while India announced in April a planned buy of 36 Rafales.

Email: ptran@defensenews.com

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