RIYADH (Reuters) – French President Jacques Chirac on a trip to Saudi Arabia preached on Sunday greater tolerance and respect after the publication of satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad a month ago whipped up protests around the world.
The president’s comments to the Saudi consultative council were also made the day after Al Qaeda’s deputy leader in a message on the Internet called on Muslims to boycott countries where the countries had been published, including France.
“With globalisation, everything is known immediately and everywhere. We are no longer isolated, each one in their own country,” Chirac said.
“We must now, more than ever, embrace global values that forms our common existence. We must cultivate all opportunities for dialogue to avoid misunderstandings,” he said.
Chirac will battle during his three day trip that ends on Monday for French firms to get a bigger slice of the giant economic projects mushrooming in Saudi Arabia, where U.S. and British firms already have a strong foothold.
But the recent row over the Danish cartoons has reinforced some Saudis’ resolve to turn away from new Western business partners.