France’s Macron meets with the Saudi Crown Prince at the last leg of the Gulf

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (Associated Press)-French President Emmanuel Macron met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Saturday, the last stop of a two-day Gulf tour. Both parties are expected to privately express their concerns about Iran’s nuclear program, multiple crises in Lebanon, and the war in Yemen.

Earlier in the day, Macron told reporters in Qatar that France and some European countries are considering setting up a joint diplomatic mission in Afghanistan, but stressed that this does not mean recognition of the country’s Taliban rulers.

He also said that he will raise the issue of Lebanon to the Saudi crown prince, especially the importance of supporting it when the politically deadlocked country moves from one crisis to another.

In Saudi Arabia, Macron met with the Crown Prince in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, where the country is hosting a host Its first Formula One race with Justin Bieber’s pop concert, Although rights groups called for boycotts. This is the latest move by the young crown prince to showcase the social reforms he has brought and praised. However, at the same time, the prince also took the lead in a general suppression of human rights activists and critics, and eventually killed the Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey at the end of 2018. This action tarnished the prince’s reputation abroad.

The 43-year-old Macron and the 36-year-old heir to the Saudi throne have maintained open channels of communication, including during periods of international disputes. Most notably, The intervention of the French President is seen as the key to 2017 After allegedly forced to resign during his visit to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, he assisted the then Prime Minister of Lebanon Saad Hariri to leave Saudi Arabia.

Lebanon is expected to appear again in Macron’s talks with Prince Mohammed.Lebanon, which has suffered an unprecedented economic crisis, is facing Additional economic and diplomatic pressure From the Gulf Arab countries, mainly Saudi Arabia, because they are frustrated with the rule of Lebanese politics by the Hezbollah supported by Iran.

A few hours before arriving in Jeddah, Macron stated that it was “absolutely necessary” for the region to reopen economic relations and help Lebanon when needed. He said he discussed the issue with the governing Emir of Qatar and will discuss it with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

In order to ease the tension before Macron’s visit to Jeddah, the Lebanese minister once criticized the Saudi-led war in Yemen and His remarks triggered the latest Gulf dispute to resign from the government on Friday. He said that he resigned before his trip, hoping that this move would help the French president in his efforts to restore relations between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.

Macron told reporters in Qatar: “I think this resignation makes it possible to restart discussions, especially with Saudi Arabia. The primary goal must be the normal operation of the Lebanese government, that is to say, meeting, working and advancing is impossible. An indispensable reform.”

While in Qatar earlier on Saturday, Macron praised the small Gulf country’s role in assisting European citizens to evacuate Afghanistan after the Taliban took over the country in the summer.

He said that France and other EU countries are considering “establishing a common location with several European countries, and our ambassador or charge d’affaires can appear in Afghanistan.” He emphasized that this will not mark political recognition or political dialogue with the Taliban.

During the Gulf Conference, Macron’s talks also focused on Resumption of negotiations with world powers on Iran’s nuclear agreement, Of which France is one of the parties. France, Germany and the United Kingdom have stated that the 2015 nuclear agreement (with minor adjustments) is the way forward with Iran. The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia opposed the negotiated agreement with Iran, although both parties have since held talks with Tehran to ease tensions.

During Macron’s visit to the UAE on Friday, France announced The UAE is buying 80 upgraded Rafale fighters The 16 billion euros (18 billion U.S. dollars) transaction is the largest arms export contract in the history of France. The transaction was criticized by human rights organizations, who feared that the UAE would be involved in the war in Yemen.

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Associated Press producer Martha McPherson is from Paris.

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