French President Emmanuel Macron and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman held a working dinner at the Elysée Palace on Thursday, during which they discussed bilateral relations and areas of existing partnership.
They also touched on opportunities for developing cooperation and reviewed the latest developments in the Middle East and efforts to achieve stability and peace.
French presidential sources stated that Macron and Prince Mohammed bin Salman have also focused on the supply of energy to European countries, in the wake of the Russian-Ukrainian war and its consequences on global food and energy security.
The Iranian nuclear issue, the situation in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria and Iraq, as well as terrorism were also on the table of the two leaders.
The sources added that Macron, who had returned from his African tour, which included Cameroon, Benin and Guinea-Bissau, to host the Saudi crown prince, would emphasize the need to exploit the available means to reduce regional escalation.
French sources said that Macron wanted to put his country on the diplomatic map of the Middle East through his recent movement. The sources added that the French president was seeking to reproduce the experience of the Baghdad conference held in August last year, which brought together all parties in the region, including the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran.
According to the French vision, a conference or summit of this kind would alleviate tension and provide a platform for dialogue between all parties.
Iran’s nuclear project, in addition to the ballistic missile program and Tehran’s threatening regional behavior were also among the issues of discussions between Macron and the Saudi crown prince.
The French president had spoken last week with his Iranian counterpart, Ibrahim Raisi, and conveyed his disappointment over Tehran’s refusal to sign the semi-final agreement reached by the Vienna negotiations. However, Macron believes that returning to the 2015 agreement is still possible, provided that the main actors refrain from wasting time and opportunities.
In parallel, the French sources pointed to Macron’s visit to Jeddah at the end of 2021, during which an agreement to establish a financial mechanism to support Lebanon in the sectors of hospitalization and education.
They noted that the Elysée underlined the necessity for the Lebanese authorities to carry out the required reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and restore the state’s control over the country’s decision-making, amid concerns over a lurking institutional vacuum if the political parties failed to elect a successor to President Michel Aoun.
On the Syrian situation, the French sources pointed to a Saudi-French converging stance, adding that the two sides would discuss recent developments, especially in northern Syria.