Bin Salman Receives Macron for First Time Since Khashoggi Murder
French President Emmanuel Macron visits Saudi Arabia to discuss "stability" in the Gulf and the situation in Lebanon.
French President Emmanuel Macron met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in Jeddah on Saturday to discuss guaranteeing "stability" in the Gulf as well as the crisis with Lebanon.
Macron is now one of the first Western leaders to have met Bin Salman since the murder of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, in his own country's consulate in Istanbul.
Dialogue with Saudi Arabia, "the leading Gulf country in terms of size," is necessary to "work for stability in the region," Macron said on Friday.
He added, however, "it doesn't mean that I endorse anything," in a reference to the Khashoggi murder. "I note that Saudi Arabia had organized the G20 summit... not many powers boycotted the G20," despite the Khashoggi affair, said Macron.
"We have always been clear on the issue of human rights or this case."
Macron intends to plead Lebanon's case, where the economic crisis was further fueled by a diplomatic row Saudi Arabia sparked between the small country and some Gulf states, following the airing of a program wherein Lebanon's Information Minister criticized the Yemen war; the program had been recorded a month before he was named minister.
These efforts come in the aftermath of the resignation of the Information Minister, George Kordahi, who had made the move in order for Macron's initiative to work.
France's role in the region
France plays a significant role in the region, said Macron, "but how can we work for regional stability and on Lebanon and many other issues while ignoring the first Gulf state in terms of geography and size?"
The United Arab Emirates signed a record €14 billion ($15.8 billion) contract for 80 French Rafale warplanes and committed billions of euros in other deals during Macron's stopover.
Human Rights Watch criticized the sale, saying the UAE has played "a prominent role" in the atrocity-ridden war on Yemen. The statement also said that Riyadh was in 2020 the largest buyer of French weapons.
Yemeni war victims file complaint in France
8 victims of the Saudi-led coalition's war on Yemen filed a complaint against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for financing terrorism.
The complaint was submitted on behalf of the Yemeni NGO, the Legal Center for Rights and Development, which is based in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.
"Our best allies and arms customers in the region are allied with our worst enemies, who orchestrated the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in January 2015," said attorney Joseph Briham, who filed a complaint along with his assistant, Julie Baleno.