PARIS (AP) — French President Francois Hollande is seeking to solidify strategic alliances in the Persian Gulf, as he heads to Qatar to sign a 7 billion-euro ($7.8 billion) fighter jet deal and then gets a starring role in a regional summit in Saudi Arabia.
With the U.S. less dependent on the region's oil, France has emerged as strong regional player. France has led airstrikes against Islamic State extremists, supported international intervention in Yemen, and held a tough line against Iran's nuclear program.
Hollande leaves Sunday for Qatar, where he will finalize the deal to sell Qatar 24 Rafale fighter jets Monday.
Hollande's office says he will be the guest of honor Tuesday at the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Riyadh. He's expected to hold bilateral meetings with regional leaders.