French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel Macron Justice for Josephine Baker means restoration of her US nationality Right-wing extremist commentator takes part in presidential race in France Josephine Baker honored in the French pantheon MORE became the first major Western leader to travel to Saudi Arabia on Saturday since U.S. journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in 2018.
Macron met in the city of Jeddah, Reuters, with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who US intelligence services have implicated in the murder of Khashoggi reported.
“We talked about absolutely everything, without taboos, and we were obviously able to address the issue of human rights,” Macron said after the meeting.
“It was a one-on-one exchange, I hope, effective. I still have the same approach to getting this channel with executives for tangible results,” he added.
According to Reuters, Macron sees Saudi Arabia, for which France is an important arms supplier, among other things as an important ally in securing a peace agreement with Iran.
Macron said leaders had spoken about Iran and had received a pledge from Saudi Arabia to work towards a solution to Lebanon’s economic crisis, Reuters said.
Due to the prominent political role of Hezbollah, a militant Lebanese party supported by Iran, Saudi Arabia had previously imposed an import ban on Lebanon and withdrew its ambassador, The Washington Post, from the country reported. Several other states in the countries of the region have therefore also taken punitive measures against Lebanon.
Macron didn’t say whether Saudi Arabia would reverse these measures.
In addition to the Khashoggi assassination and crackdown on human rights activism in the country, Saudi Arabia has also recently been criticized for its alleged role in the civil war in Yemen, where Riyadh is believed to be supporting a coalition of Houthi rebels in a conflict against the Yemeni government. According to Reuters, France has been facing increasing pressure recently to reduce arms sales to Saudi Arabia because of its alleged involvement in the war.
No other major Western leader has visited Saudi Arabia since Khashoggi was assassinated by Saudi government agents with the consent of Crown Prince Mohammed. However, other leaders have continued to hold talks with the Crown Prince and supply arms to the country. In November, the State Department approved the first major US arms deal with Saudi Arabia since Biden took office.
Crown Prince Mohammed has denied any involvement in Khashoggi’s death.