Paris – French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault will conduct a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia on Monday to discuss strategic partnership and regional issues, French diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.
This will be Ayrault’s first visit to Riyadh since his appointment as foreign minister in February 2016.
Earlier this week, the French official met with his Saudi counterpart Adel Al-Jubeir in Paris, on the sidelines of the Middle East Peace Conference, which was held under the auspices of the French government.
French sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Paris had many issues to discuss with Riyadh, including preparations for the meeting of the French-Saudi Joint Commission, which will be held in the summer, and which aims at promoting economic, investment and commercial relations within the framework of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
On a different note, the sources said that Ayrault would also discuss with Saudi officials the situation in the region, including the war in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, as well as means to fight terrorism and protect the security of the Gulf region.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister responded to statements by some French presidential candidates that Riyadh funds Islamist extremism in France and that bilateral ties between the two allies should be reviewed.
In a press briefing in Paris attended by Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Jubeir said: “I can’t comment on what’s said during an election campaign, but I know there is a misperception of Saudi Arabia.”
“People say Saudi Arabia is extremism. Saudi Arabia is intolerance. Saudi Arabia is funding radical institutions and I always say it’s not true”, he stated.
“When people say the Saudis are funding this, I say show me. Nobody has anything to show, but the image has stuck and becomes a reality,” Jubeir added.