Macron meets Saudi Crown Prince on final Gulf stop – .

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Macron meets Saudi Crown Prince on final Gulf stop – .


French President Emmanuel Macron met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Saturday for the final leg of a two-day Gulf tour. Concerns over Iran’s nuclear program, the multiple crises in Lebanon and the ongoing war in Yemen were to be aired privately by both sides.
Earlier today, Macron was in Qatar, where he told reporters that France and a number of European countries were considering opening a joint diplomatic mission in Afghanistan, but stressed that this would not mean recognition of the leaders. Taliban in the country.

He also said he would raise the issue of Lebanon with the Saudi Crown Prince, especially the importance of standing by the politically deadlocked country as it moves from crisis to crisis.

In Saudi Arabia, Macron met the crown prince in the Red Sea town of Jiddah, where the kingdom is hosting its very first Formula 1 race and a Justin Bieber pop concert, despite calls from the groups. defense of boycott rights. It is the last initiative of the young crown prince to present the social reforms he inaugurated and for which he has been praised. Simultaneously, however, the prince also carried out a pervasive crackdown on human rights activists and critics, culminating in the murder of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi in late 2018 in Turkey, an operation that tarnished the prince’s reputation in Turkey. abroad.

Macron, 43, has always maintained an open line of communication with the 36-year-old heir to the Saudi throne, including during times of international controversy. In particular, the intervention of the French president was seen as essential in 2017 to help then Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to leave Saudi Arabia after he was allegedly forced to resign his post during a visit to the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

Lebanon is expected to feature again in Macron’s talks with Prince Mohammed. Lebanon, already suffering from an unprecedented economic crisis, faces additional economic and diplomatic pressure from Arab Gulf states, primarily Saudi Arabia, due to frustration over the group’s dominance Iran-backed Hezbollah over Lebanese policy.

Hours before arriving in Jiddah, Macron said it was “absolutely necessary” for the region to reopen its economic relations and help Lebanon in times of need. He said he had discussed it with the ruling Emir of Qatar and would do so with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

To help ease tensions ahead of Macron’s trip to Jiddah, a Lebanese minister who had criticized the Saudi-led war in Yemen and whose comments sparked the latest Gulf feud resigned from the government on Friday. He said he resigned before the trip in the hope that the move could help the French president’s efforts to restore Saudi-Lebanese relations.

“I think that this resignation made it possible to relaunch the possibility of discussions, in particular with Saudi Arabia,” Macron told journalists in Qatar. “The first objective must be that the Lebanese government can function normally, that is to say to meet, to work and to advance the essential reforms.

While in Qatar early Saturday, Macron praised the role of the small Gulf state in helping efforts to evacuate European citizens out of Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of the country in the past. ‘summer.

He indicated that France and other EU countries are considering “having a site common to several European countries where our ambassadors or charge d’affaires can be present” in Afghanistan. He stressed that this would not mean political recognition or political dialogue with the Taliban.

Throughout his meetings in the Gulf, Macron’s talks have also focused on resuming talks over Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, of which France is a party. France, Germany and the UK have signaled that the 2015 nuclear deal – with minor adjustments – is the way forward with Iran. The UAE and Saudi Arabia had opposed the deal negotiated with Iran, although both have since held talks with Tehran to calm tensions.

During Macron’s visit to the United Arab Emirates on Friday, France announced that the United Arab Emirates was purchasing 80 upgraded Rafale fighter jets in a deal worth € 16 billion ($ 18 billion ) and represents the largest French arms contract for exports. The deal has been criticized by human rights groups concerned about the UAE’s involvement in the war in Yemen.

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Associated Press producer Masha Macpherson has contributed from Paris.

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