Saudi Crown Prince Prince Mohammed bin Salman is scheduled to arrive in France later on Sunday for a three-day visit to discuss the various Middle East crises, while the momentum of deals will be missed.
Diplomatic sources said the Saudi prince would discuss with French officials the Gulf crisis, the Yemen war and Iranian influence in the region.
Ben Salman will meet with French President Emmanuel Macaron on Tuesday afternoon to promote a fundamentally complex relationship between the two countries, according to the AFP.
While the deals have overshadowed the Saudi prince’s visit to the United States and his relations with President Donald Trump, the French do not want to appear at least this time as if they are keen on Saudi money at any price.
Paris has passed through some diplomatic sources not to be keen to sign agreements with Ibn Salman as it seeks to control relations with him in the role of Saudi Arabia in the turmoil and crises of the Middle East.
Reuters quoted a French diplomatic source as saying that Macaron regarded Ibn Salman as a fugitive or bull, signaling Paris’ caution about dealing with the young prince who is fighting a war in Yemen, besieging Qatar and launching a verbal attack on Iran and Islamic currents in the region.
Trump and Iran
Bin Salman stresses the depth of his relations with the US president, and both sides declare their resolve to counter Tehran’s influence in the Middle East.
On the other hand, the French president seeks to improve relations with Tehran and vows to maintain the nuclear agreement signed with the great powers, despite the threat of Trump cancellation.
The visit will certainly address regional crises from Syria to the Iranian nuclear deal, Yemen and the situation in Lebanon.
The two sides will also discuss the situation in the Sahel region, where Saudi Arabia contributes to the financing of the Group of Five, a subject of great French interest.
A liberal image
According to the French agency, the visit will likely not sign any major contract. The Elysee said Macaron wanted, above all, to establish a “new cooperation” with the oil kingdom, which is expected to enter a new social and economic stage with Prince Salman’s arrival in power.
A source close to the Saudi delegation told Agence France-Presse that it was “a matter of building a new partnership with France and not just running behind the contracts” but about 12 protocols will be signed in the fields of tourism, energy and transportation.
Ibn Salman is scheduled to participate in an economic forum and attend cultural events in France. A source close to the Saudi delegation said the crown prince could attend the concert to end the Easter festival in the southern city of X-Provence.
The Saudi Crown Prince is seeking to give the West a more liberal image of the conservative kingdom, and for this purpose he recently visited Britain and spent three weeks in the United States.
Source: Al Jazeera + Agencies
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