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Macron in Saudi to talk regional stability with crown prince

Jeddah, /DNA/ – French President Emmanuel Macron met Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler in Jeddah Saturday to discuss regional stability, in particular crisis-hit Lebanon, after insisting he has not ignored Riyadh’s rights record.

 Macron landed in the kingdom’s Red Sea city after visits to the United Arab Emirates and Qatar as part of a short Gulf tour.

 Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shook hands with Macron, who wore a face mask, welcoming him at the royal palace before talks and a lunch together.

 He becomes one of the first Western leaders to meet with Prince Mohammed in the kingdom since Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside Riyadh’s Istanbul consulate in 2018.

  The killing by Saudi agents severely tarnished Prince Mohammed’s international image.

 Dialogue with Saudi Arabia was necessary to “work for stability in the region”, Macron said on Friday.

 However, he added in a reference to the Khashoggi murder that “it doesn’t mean that I endorse anything”.

 “I note that Saudi Arabia had organised the G20 summit… not many powers boycotted the G20,” despite the Khashoggi affair, said Macron.

 “We have always been clear on the issue of human rights or this case”.

  Riyadh has described the murder as a “rogue” operation, but both the US Central Intelligence Agency and a United Nations special rapporteur have directly linked Prince Mohammed to the killing, a charge the kingdom vehemently denies.

 During his discussions with Prince Mohammed, Macron is expected to plead the case of Lebanon, where an economic crisis has been exasperated by a diplomatic row sparked in October between Beirut and some Gulf states — in particular Saudi Arabia which had blocked imports.

His efforts are likely to receive a boost by the resignation of Lebanese information minister Georges Kordahi whose remarks on the Saudi intervention in Yemen’s war sparked the row.






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