"Man whose hands are covered in blood": Macron slammed for MBS visit
French President Emmanuel Macron faces a wave of criticism over receiving Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in Paris.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) on Friday thanked French President Emmanuel Macron for his "warm reception" during talks in Paris that have outraged rights groups.
The 36-year-old Crown Prince became a pariah in the West following the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents inside Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
Macron's office made no official statement on the talks overnight which were expected to focus on securing extra oil and gas supplies from the Middle East's biggest producer.
Bin Salman's visit to Frane comes as Western leaders urgently seek fresh sources of fossil fuels to replace lost Russian production.
"Man whose hands are covered in blood"
Earlier this month, US President Joe Biden traveled to Riyadh, drawing similar criticism to that faced by Macron at home.
While Biden fist-bumped bin Salman in a gesture that was seized on by critics, Macron shook hands on the steps of the Elysee Palace as he welcomed the Saudi Crown Prince.
"He's shaking the hand for a long time of man whose hands are covered in blood," senior leftwing MP Alexis Corbiere told BFM television on Friday.
"A mistake to not speak"
Some analysts believe Saudi Arabia is one of few countries worldwide with the capacity to increase its oil production.
Public Services Minister Stanislas Guerini, a close ally of Macron, said that "There are partners, countries that do not all share the same democratic values as France."
"But I believe it would be a mistake to not speak, to not try to make things happen," he told Europe 1 radio on Friday.
The role of the president was "to protect the French people," he claimed.
Guerini added that "French values, the voice of France, human rights, were carried last night, as always, by the president."
The head of Amnesty International, Agnes Callamard, told AFP that she felt "profoundly troubled" by bin Salman's visit.
The murder of Khashoggi was described by a UN probe as an "extrajudicial killing for which Saudi Arabia is responsible."
US intelligence agencies said that MBS had "approved" the operation that led to Khashoggi's murder. Riyadh denies this, blaming rogue operatives.
On her part, Khashoggi's fiancee Hatice Cengiz told AFP on Thursday that "I am scandalised and outraged that Emmanuel Macron is receiving with all the honours the executioner of my fiance."