Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Paris on Friday for an official visit, where he met with French President Emmanuel Macron. The purpose of the visit was not only to strengthen bilateral relations but also to participate in a global financing summit that focuses on combatting poverty and addressing climate change.
During the visit, Macron and the crown prince engaged in a one-to-one working lunch at the Elysee presidential palace.
The discussions centered around various topics, including the regional stability of the Middle East, particularly in light of the recent restoration of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran, two long-time rivals. It is worth noting that France plays a significant role as a supplier of weapons and defense equipment to Gulf nations.
The leaders used the opportunity to prepare for an upcoming global summit. The summit aims to bring together both public and private funding in order to tackle poverty, support the transition towards a sustainable climate, and preserve biodiversity.
The event is expected to host over 50 heads of state, government officials, NGOs, and prominent climate activists, further highlighting the importance of international collaboration in addressing these critical issues.
Prince Mohammed is expected to advocate for Riyadh as the host city of the 2030 World Fair’s Expo during his visit to Paris. This visit is part of his efforts to improve his international image, following the 2018 killing and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Although Saudi Arabia denies the prince’s involvement, U.S. intelligence agencies believe he likely ordered Khashoggi’s killing as part of a broader crackdown on dissent.
Since then, Prince Mohammed has been trying to present Saudi Arabia as a potential mediator in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
Additionally, he has utilized Saudi Arabia’s influential position as the leading member of the OPEC+ oil cartel to raise global energy prices. The prince is also focused on developing large-scale projects across the kingdom to create employment opportunities for Saudi Arabia’s young population.
Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia faces challenges and international suspicions. The country remains embroiled in a protracted war with Yemen, and its execution rates have risen significantly following the COVID-19 pandemic.
In light of these concerns, a high-ranking French official, speaking anonymously in line with customary practices, expressed France’s desire to persuade Saudi Arabia to engage with Russia in order to end the conflict while safeguarding Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
President Macron is also expected to address human rights issues during the discussions, as France staunchly opposes the use of the death penalty, according to the official.