World

French president visits Qatar for talks with emir, plane deal at start of Gulf trip

  • French President Francois Hollande, center,  is greeted by Culture minister of Qatar Dr. Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari at the Doha airport, Qatar, Monday, May 4, 2015. Hollande is seeking to solidify strategic alliances in the Persian Gulf, as he heads to Qatar to sign a 7-billion-euro fighter jet deal and then gets a starring role in a regional summit in Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, Pool)

    French President Francois Hollande, center, is greeted by Culture minister of Qatar Dr. Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari at the Doha airport, Qatar, Monday, May 4, 2015. Hollande is seeking to solidify strategic alliances in the Persian Gulf, as he heads to Qatar to sign a 7-billion-euro fighter jet deal and then gets a starring role in a regional summit in Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • French President Francois Hollande, center,  is greeted by Culture minister of Qatar Dr. Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari at the Doha airport, Qatar, Monday, May 4, 2015. Hollande is seeking to solidify strategic alliances in the Persian Gulf, as he heads to Qatar to sign a 7-billion-euro fighter jet deal and then gets a starring role in a regional summit in Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, Pool)

    French President Francois Hollande, center, is greeted by Culture minister of Qatar Dr. Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari at the Doha airport, Qatar, Monday, May 4, 2015. Hollande is seeking to solidify strategic alliances in the Persian Gulf, as he heads to Qatar to sign a 7-billion-euro fighter jet deal and then gets a starring role in a regional summit in Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • French President Francois Hollande, center,  is greeted by Culture minister of Qatar Dr. Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, right, as French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, left, looks on,  at the Doha airport, Qatar, Monday, May 4, 2015. Hollande is seeking to solidify strategic alliances in the Persian Gulf, as he heads to Qatar to sign a 7-billion-euro fighter jet deal and then gets a starring role in a regional summit in Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, Pool)

    French President Francois Hollande, center, is greeted by Culture minister of Qatar Dr. Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, right, as French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, left, looks on, at the Doha airport, Qatar, Monday, May 4, 2015. Hollande is seeking to solidify strategic alliances in the Persian Gulf, as he heads to Qatar to sign a 7-billion-euro fighter jet deal and then gets a starring role in a regional summit in Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

French President Francois Hollande has arrived in Qatar at the start of a two-nation Gulf trip that will also include a visit to neighboring Saudi Arabia.

The centerpiece of Hollande's visit to Qatar on Monday is the signing of a 6.3 billion euro ($7 billion) deal to sell 24 Rafale fighter jets to the natural gas-rich nation.

He is expected to hold talks with Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani during his visit before departing later in the day for Saudi Arabia.

Qatar is the third overseas buyer of the delta-winged Rafale, manufactured by France's Dassault Aviation. India announced plans to buy 36 Rafale jets earlier this month and Egypt bought 24 of them in February. The United Arab Emirates is also considering buying the plane.