middle east

Saudi crown prince holds talks with Macron in Paris

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and French President Emmanuel Macron called for a “rapid end to the institutional political vacuum in Lebanon” on Friday.

This came during the visit of the Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince to France, in which the French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

The two sides expressed their concern about the situation in Lebanon, especially after the Lebanese lawmakers on Wednesday failed for a 12th time to elect a new president, as bitter divisions between the Iran-backed Hezbollah and its opponents risk miring the country in a protracted power vacuum.

The prolonged absence of a president “remains the major obstacle to resolving the country’s severe socio-economic crisis,” the French presidency said after the meeting between the president and Prince Mohammed in Paris.

The crown prince and Macron also “reiterated their shared commitment to security and stability in the Near and Middle East and expressed their desire to pursue their joint efforts to bring about a lasting easing of tensions,” a statement said.

The two intend to “develop and deepen the partnership between the two countries,” it added.

France will be prepared “to support Saudi Arabia in strengthening its defense capabilities” Macron said and he stressed “the willingness of French companies to continue to support Saudi Arabia in implementing its ambitious Vision 2030.”

The meeting followed the recent announcement of the resumption of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, an event that caught France’s attention. The Elysee responded to it by saying “there is in this normalization of diplomatic relations with Iran a potential for easing tensions in the region that must be verified.”

In the view of the French, “the issue is not so much the normalization of relations with Iran but the demonstration of what Iran and Saudi Arabia together can make of this normalization on certain subjects where the two countries have so far been opposed.”

Therefore, the meeting offered a chance to review the effects this normalization could have on the main issues of common interest between France and Saudi Arabia, in particular the situations in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, and the ongoing saga of the Iran nuclear deal.

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