France’s Macron to Host Saudi Crown Prince for Mideast Talks

French President Emmanuel Macron will host Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Paris on Friday, on his second visit to the country in about a year.

The two leaders will meet at the Elysee palace and discuss bilateral relations as well as Middle Eastern and international topics, according to the French presidency.

The crown prince left for France on Wednesday, the Saudi state press agency reported. As well as meeting Macron, he will attend a June 22-23 conference in Paris about creating a “new global financial pact,” the agency reported. He will also be at a reception scheduled for next Monday for Riyadh’s bid to host Expo 2030.

Prince Mohammed visited France last July on his first European tour after the 2018 killing of columnist Jamal Khashoggi, which damaged the kingdom’s ties with the West.

The prince was vilified in the US and Europe following the killing, committed by Saudi agents at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul. He has denied any involvement in the operation, but accepted symbolic responsibility as the country’s de facto ruler.

Macron has strengthened France’s ties with Gulf Arab countries in recent years, especially in defense after Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi fighters attacked the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, often targeting their energy infrastructure.

Riyadh and Paris also have cultural ties. France is involved in the development of the kingdom’s historic Al Ula region, which Prince Mohammed wants to turn into a global tourism destination.

Source from: Bloomberg