Paris, Asharq Al-Awsat—French President François Hollande will hold a meeting on Monday evening with Saudi Crown Prince, Prime Minister and Deputy Defense Minister Salman Bin Abdulaziz, the Presidential Palace in Paris announced on Sunday.
Crown Prince Salman started a three-day official visit to France on Monday, his first official visit to France in his capacity as Crown Prince.
Senior diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that President Hollande extended an official invitation to Crown Prince Salman during his second visit to Saudi Arabia in December 2013.
The sources, which described Crown Prince Salman as an “old friend of France,” said Paris will hold important discussions with the Prince “on issues related to the regional situation, especially in Iraq and Syria.”
The sources added: “There is agreement in the stances of the two countries on all regional issues, most prominently Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, as well as Gulf security and relations with Iran, which brought the countries closer and prompted them to cooperate on bilateral relations in all fields.”
The sources said the French and Saudi governments shared the same view on the importance of confronting the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and agreed that cooperation with the Syrian government to combat the organization was unacceptable.
The two sides also shared the same views on developments in Lebanon, and the importance of supporting the Lebanese army and the resolution of the presidential crisis, the sources said, and added that the Crown Prince’s visit would coincide with moves to begin implementing a plan to arm the Lebanese army following a grant of 3 billion US dollars by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, to the Lebanese military to buy French arms.
The sources said the two sides will also discuss Saudi investment projects in France as well as peaceful nuclear cooperation, as well as cooperation in the fields of solar energy and rail transport.
Paris will also discuss defense cooperation with the Crown Prince in his capacity as defense minister. During the visit, Crown Prince Salman will also hold meetings with a number of French officials, including the foreign and defense ministers.
Following the talks, President Hollande will hold an official banquet at the Élysée Palace for officials from both countries, as well as businessmen and other dignitaries.