Qatar and France yesterday signed a series of agreements, strengthening economic and cultural relations between the two countries.
HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and French President Francois Hollande witnessed the signing of the agreements.
Sheikh Tamim is in Paris on a two-day official visit to France.
He held a session of official talks with President Hollande at Elysee Palace yesterday evening. The session reviewed bilateral relations as well as ways to enhance them.
Later, the Emir attended a dinner banquet hosted by President Hollande.
At a speech during the banquet, the French president welcomed the Emir, expressing his confidence that the visit would contribute to “supporting and strengthening the distinguished ties of co-operation and friendship between Qatar and France, especially since it is the first official visit by HH the Emir to Europe”.
President Hollande described Qatar as a loyal friend and hoped that the friendly relations would continue in an atmosphere of trust and openness.
He praised the vision and foresight of HH the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and his commitment to the security of the region and the world, while stressing the importance of security in the Middle East.
The president praised the existing partnership between French companies and Qatar and commended the co-operation in sports.
In a welcoming speech, the Emir expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the French president for the hospitality accorded to him and the accompanying delegation, voicing his satisfaction at the friendship between both countries.
He stressed the strong ties between the two countries on the economic and trade fronts as well as in cultural and educational areas.
HH the Emir said the world was living through repercussions resulting from crises and contradictions, which “applies to our region in particular”.
“Qatar has continuously defended the values of justice, fraternity, equality and wisdom, and maintained its neutral stance toward crises in the region despite the resulting political tensions,” he said.
He noted that Doha worked to provide a common ground that allowed opposing sides to come together for a peaceful resolution to conflicts.
He said that Qatar communicated with all countries and, at the same time, respected the key political and intellectual currents in the region and all over the world, and defended freedom of expression and objected to anything that led to intolerance. He stressed that this was the choice Qatar adopted even if it irritated some sides.
The dinner banquet was attended by a number of French ministers, heads of diplomatic missions accredited to France as well as senior officials and media and cultural dignitaries.