Paris – Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met on Monday with French President Francois Hollande during an official meeting at the Élysée Palace.
The deputy crown prince and Hollande reviewed bilateral relations between the two countries during an hour-long meeting at the official residence of the French president.
Prince Salman also met French Prime Minister Manuel Valls at the government headquarters. Discussions during the meetings focused on political issues, mainly the situation in the Middle East, in addition to economic affairs and mutual cooperation, as well as the common desire to boost strategic relations between the two countries.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said that talks touched on Iranian interference in the region.
He added that France had reaffirmed its support to the kingdom’s Vision 2030. Later in the day, Prince Mohammed held talks with French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian at the ministry’s headquarters in Paris.
The two officials discussed military cooperation and efforts deployed to fight terrorism in all its forms.
During a meeting with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, the deputy crown prince discussed diplomatic affairs and possible initiatives that could be launched by France and Saudi Arabia to resolve political crises in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, sources close to the Élysée Palace told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that the meeting with Hollande focused on two main issues: Saudi Arabia’s reform programs and the situation in the Middle East.
They added that Prince Mohammed informed Hollande of Saudi reform initiatives within the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. For his part, the French president reiterated his country’s support to Vision 2030 and its keenness on deepening strategic partnerships with Saudi Arabia.
On the political level, the Élysée sources said that the two officials discussed the situation in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, adding that Hollande mainly focused on the Yemeni file and the negotiations held in Kuwait in an attempt to reach an agreement between the different Yemeni factions.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet said it looked forward to the results of the visit by the Deputy Crown Prince to the French Republic and his meetings with President Hollande and a number of French officials, with whom he will discuss issues and topics of common interest and cooperation between the two friendly countries.
The Cabinet also lauded the outcome of Deputy Crown Prince Salman’s visit to the United States, where he met with President Barack Obama and high-ranking officials. In a statement issued following its weekly meeting, the Cabinet said that Prince Mohammed and U.S. officials reviewed the best ways to enhance Saudi-U.S. mutual cooperation, in light of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and its economic programs, including the ambitious National Transformation Program.
The third edition of the Saudi-French Business Opportunities Forum will be postponed to give France the appropriate time to take into consideration Saudi reforms within the Vision 2030.
In a statement, the French foreign affairs ministry said that the forum, which was supposed to be held on the sidelines of Deputy Crown Prince Salman’s visit, was postponed until fall 2016 in order to integrate the projects that would be launched by France in the Kingdom within Saudi’s Vision, the statement added.
Several business leaders and economic experts from both the countries will attend the forum, which is aimed at exploring more avenues of investment opportunities in both the countries.