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    Vladivostok amphibious assault ship of the French Mistral class in the docks of SNX France

    Who is Lining Up for Mistrals? Egypt, Saudi Arabia Rumored to Be Interested

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    The next episode in the Mistral saga could begin in the near future: Egypt and Saudi Arabia are rumored to be contemplating the purchase of the two helicopter carriers built for the Russian Navy after Moscow and Paris officially terminated the deal, Le Monde reported, citing an unnamed source.

    "Egypt and Saudi Arabia are ready to do anything it takes to buy the two Mistrals. King Salman of Saudi Arabia wants to build a strong fleet in Egypt capable of projecting regional power in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean," the source told the newspaper.

    In late July, Cairo and Riyadh agreed to foster closer economic ties and boost military cooperation. President Abdel Fattah Sisi and Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are also intent on creating a pan-Arabian military force.

    The Mistrals, according to Le Monde, could be instrumental in these efforts. The amphibious assault ships are a "type of weaponry which has demonstrated its efficiency," the source said.

    Other countries, including Brazil, Canada, China, India and the United States, are said to be interested in adding the two Mistrals docked at a shipyard in Saint-Nazaire to their arsenals. However, not a single country has openly offered to buy the two warships so far.

    French Senator Helene Conway-Mouret told Sputnik on Friday that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Canada and Singapore have expressed interest in buying France's Mistral-class helicopter carriers, initially set to be delivered to Russia.

    "It is possible that more countries come forth after the announcement," said Conway-Mouret, a member of the French Senate's foreign affairs committee. "Of course, there can me more countries, because these ships can be differently equipped, which may, for various reasons, interest a large number of countries," she added.

    Those contemplating the purchase should keep in mind that the two helicopter carries were built to meet the specific needs of the Russian Navy. Their de-customization will be a lengthy and expensive endeavor. The French daily Les Echos quoted an expert as saying that the process could cost up to 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion).

    The newspaper also added that France would likely have to offer a generous discount for the warships.

    On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Francois Hollande confirmed that they had arrived at a decision to terminate the $1.3 billion deal inked in 2011.

    The agreement was suspended in late 2014 over Moscow's alleged involvement in the Ukrainian civil war. The Kremlin has repeatedly said Russia is not a party to the deadly conflict and pushed for peace in the war-torn nation.

    Paris is reported to have transferred some 1.1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) to a Russian bank as compensation for the non-delivery.

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    Deal Cancelled: What Will Paris Do With Russia's Mistrals? (57)

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    France, warships, military hardware, helicopter carrier, amphibious assault ship, Mistral, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt
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