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Paris on the Saudi Crown Prince’s Visit: This is the Golden Age of Bilateral Relations - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Saudi Crown Prince is officially received after arriving in Paris yesterday where the French Minister of Environment Segolene Royal received him (SPA)

The Saudi Crown Prince is officially received after arriving in Paris yesterday by the French Minister of Environment Segolene Royal (SPA)

The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdul Aziz who is also the Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister began an official visit to France yesterday at the invitation of the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls. The visit is also at the directive of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdul Aziz according to what the Saudi Royal Court announced yesterday.

Prince Mohammed bin Nayef is scheduled to meet President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace this afternoon and Valls at his official residence Matignon Palace. In addition to meetings with the president and the prime minister, the crown prince will hold meetings with other French ministers and officials.

The visit comes during a “golden age” of Saudi- French bilateral relations according to an expression used by an official French source who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat. The source also stressed “the desire of both parties to deepen these relations and strengthen dialogue and coordination” between the two countries with regards to all topics considering that Riyadh and Paris have “excellent strategic relations”. The source also noted that there was a common “convergence in vision” on hot topics in the Middle East including the conflict in Syria and Iraq, fighting terrorism, the war in Yemen, security in the Gulf and Iran’s role in the region.

Paris considers the Crown Prince’s visit as an opportunity to discuss bilateral cooperation on specific issues. Both parties want to push this cooperation forward in all areas, especially with regards to the war in Syria.

Prince Mohammed bin Nayef’s meeting with Valls will focus on bilateral issues according to French sources whilst regional and international issues will prevail at the Elysee Palace meeting.

The French ambassador to Saudi Arabia Bertrand Bzansno told Asharq Al-Awsat that the talks that Prince Mohammed bin Nayef will hold with French officials will include the discussion of a number of security, defence, political and economic issues in order to deepen the strategic cooperation between the two countries in light of the current challenges in the region.

Ambassador Bzansno also said that the Saudi Crown Prince’s visit to France will strengthen bilateral strategic cooperation in the areas of security and defence, and will speed up the progress of agreements signed by the two countries recently to maximise the effectiveness of joint action taken to solve various regional and international issues. Bzansno continued by saying “Our countries have made great progress in working together and cooperating closely, especially in the areas of security and defence. Saudi Arabia is a strategic partner and there is a need to exchange views and ideas, and consult on an ongoing basis especially since the visions of the two countries regarding issues of concern are in conformity.

Prince Mohammed bin Nayef arrived in Paris after a visit to Tunisia where he participated in an Arab Interior Ministers’ meeting. He was officially received at Paris Orly Airport where he was greeted by the Environment, Sustainable Development and Energy minister Segolene Royal who holds second rank in the government after the prime minister. The Saudi and French national anthems were played whilst Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and Royal inspected the guard of honour.

The Crown Prince was also received by the Saudi Ambassador to France Dr. Khalid Al-Angari, his French counterpart Bertrand Bzansno, the Saudi military attache in Paris Brigadier General Prince Turki bin Khalid bin Abdullah and embassy staff.