The 2nd session of the France-Saudi Arabia Joint Commission responsible for the implementation of the programme of action approved during the official visit of the President of the French Republic to Saudi Arabia on 4 May 2015 was held in Riyadh on 13 October 2015, at the invitation of HRH Mohammad bin Salman, deputy crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Minister of Defence and chairman of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs.
This session, which was held alongside the 2nd Saudi-French Business Opportunities Forum, co-chaired by HRH Mohammad bin Salman and the French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, marked the intense relations of friendship and confidence between our two countries in a great variety of fields, and the shared will to take them even further. It showed a great convergence of views on the main regional issues.
This meeting was co-chaired by HRH Prince Mohammad bin Salman and His Excellency Mr Laurent Fabius, French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development.
On the Saudi side, participants included H.E. Adel al-Jubeir, Minister of Foreign affairs, H.E Twafiq al-Rabea, Minister of Commerce, H.E. Abdullah al-Hussein, Minister of Water and Electricity, H.E. Khaled al-Faleh, Minister of Health, H.E. Hashim al-Yamani, KACARE, H.E. Abdulrahman Al-Mufadi and H.E. Yasser Al-Rumayyan, Public Investment Fund, while French participants included Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Defence; Mr Alain Vidalies, Minister of State for Transport, the Sea and Fisheries, Mr Jean-Marie Le Guen, Minister of State for Relations with Parliament.
1 - On this occasion, the two parties proceeded with an in-depth review of their bilateral relations, with the aim of strengthening them in all areas.
They welcomed the fact that the following agreements had been signed at the Royal Palace in Riyadh following this second session of the Joint Commission:
- The Public Investment Fund has allocated $2 billions of investment in French private funds with a focus on renewable energy and SMIs;
- The Saudi Public Investment Fund is in final negotiations to provide $3 billions in funding to COFACE for export financing;
- The two parties are in ongoing discussion about other investment opportunities for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in France;
- King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (K.A.CARE) and the French Atomic and Alternative Energy Commission (CEA) have signed a letter of intent for cooperation in the renewable energy sector;
- A plasma production facility in Saudi Arabia will be established by LFB in Saudi Arabia;
- The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has lifted the embargo on French beef;
- A cooperation agreement has been signed between King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) and DCNS to establish a naval research centre;
2 - The two parties also made the following decisions:
- launch of negotiations in view to provide the Kingdom with satellite capabilities of observation and communication;
- finalization of the negotiations to provide fast patrol boats to the Saudi naval forces with a view to concluding by the end of 2015;
- establishment of a joint working group on naval projects;
- increase of cooperation in the field of military exercise and training in Saudi Arabia and France,
- negotiation of an agreement between the Ministries of Defence concerning scientific and technical cooperation.
In the field of aviation, the two parties noted the strong relationship between Saudi Arabia airlines and Airbus group and expressed satisfaction at the ongoing discussion between Saudia and Airbus to modernize and expand the Saudi Arabian airlines fleet through partnership on current and future Airbus programs. The two parties are in discussion to establish industrial projects between Airbus and Saudi partners in the field of heavy carriers and other aerospace programs with a view of enhancing the Saudi Arabia industrial base in the aerospace field.
Furthermore the parties welcomed the decision to launch negotiations with Alstom for the “rolling stock” and “system” lots for the Mecca metro.
They welcomed the development of the reception of Saudi students and doctors with the removal of the cap on the bilateral medicine grants programme.
Lastly, they intend to facilitate the issuance of visas between the two countries for players working on strengthening their economic ties. They also welcomed the ratification of the agreement on the diplomatic visa exemption.
3 - The two countries reaffirm their support for an ambitious, equitable and successful outcome of the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) in December 2015. The agreement should aim to be in line with keeping the likely increase in global average temperature below 2°C from pre-industrial levels; taking into account the need to ensure sustainable development for all, and recognizing the importance of both mitigation and adaptation. Pursuing this, the agreement should promote the long term transition of all countries towards low greenhouse-gas emitting development, in a manner that is comprehensive, cost effective, diversified and resilient in the face of the expected impacts of climate change.
4 - Lastly, the two parties adopted an ambitious working programme for the upcoming Joint Commission sessions, which will contribute to strengthening their ties.
The French authorities thank the Saudi authorities for the quality of their stay in Riyadh. They will be delighted to host them for the 3rd session of the Joint Commission, which will be held in Paris in (March) 2016.
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