France, Saudi Arabia agree on need to curb Iranian 'expansionism'

Rosalie Gross
April 12, 2018

The case was first revealed by French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, just days before de facto Saudi ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began his three-day visit to France as part of a worldwide whistlestop tour promoting Saudi Arabia's cultural agenda.

France traditionally has been a major arms supplier to the Saudis, but French officials said no big weapons contracts were planned to coincide with the crown prince's three-day official visit.

"If required by our alliance with our partners, we will be there", he said, according to the French translation of his remarks spoken in Arabic.

The association claims that the prince is complicit in the instances of torture in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is leading a military campaign in support of one of the sides in the civil war. Saudi Arabia leads a foreign coalition backing the Yemeni president who was forced out of office as the war broke out.

"We will continue to be extremely vigilant on this point", he said, while adding: "It is obvious that we will not tolerate any ballistic activity that threatens Saudi Arabia".

Macron stressed the need for "respect for global humanitarian law".

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The Russian government was "doing everything possible to minimise negative consequences" of the United States measures, he added. Shares in Rusal fell by more than 50 per cent on Monday in Hong Kong, where it is listed.

This marked a change of direction for Macron, who had previously clashed with Saudi Arabia after expressing he was committed to the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal.

The Saudi Crown Prince and the French president also said that they had agreed on the need to curb what they called "Iran's expansion in the Middle East".

Macron insisted there was no better option than enforcing the nuclear deal, but also pushed for post-2025 proposals to ensure the security of the region.

They signed a cooperation agreement on research and tourism at the Mada'in Saleh archaeological site in northwest Saudi Arabia. The move follows statements by Russian Federation and Syria who both said they wanted to facilitate a visit by inspectors. In total, $9 billion will be invested, the companies said.

President Emmanuel Macron and Prince Mohammed bin Salman touring the Louvre museum.

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