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Two multi-billion-dollar defence deals are expected to feature prominently in talks between Paris and Riyadh during a visit to the kingdom by France’s President Chirac in early March. Sources in Riyadh say that discussions are expected to cover a possible memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two countries for the supply of Rafale fighter jets manufactured by France’s Dassault Aviation. An estimated $9,000 million border security deal with an all-French consortium led by Thales Group is also expected to be on the agenda. A spokesman for Dassault confirmed that its chairman and chief executive officer Charles Edelstenne would form part of the delegation, which arrives in Riyadh on 4 March. However, he said that although Dassault had been involved in ‘informal discussions’ with Riyadh for several years, there had been no formal negotiations so far.