Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and France’s President Jacques Chirac held a meeting at the King’s palace yesterday.
At the outset of the meeting, the Monarch welcomed the French president, wishing him and his accompanying delegation a good stay in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
On his part, the French president expressed his thanks to and appreciation.
During the meeting, they discussed the overall situations and latest developments at the regional and international arenas particularly the developments of the Palestinian issue, the situation in Iraq, aspects of cooperation between the two countries and ways of enhancing them for the interest of the two countries and their friendly peoples in all fields. King Abdullah and President Chirac are scheduled to attend the opening of an Islamic art exhibit at Saudi Arabia’s National Museum. The exhibit, which is being held by the Louvre Museum in Paris, has been organized in cooperation with the Supreme Commission for Tourism. The Louvre collection was previously funded by a gift of $20 million from Chairman of the Kingdom Holding Company Prince Waleed bin Talal. President Chirac will also make a historic address to the Shura Council. He is the first foreign dignitary to do so.
France, number three arms exporter after the United States and Britain, holds a 12 percent share of the global market and counts Saudi Arabia among its main clients.
French imports from Saudi Arabia, which sits on more than a quarter of global oil reserves and is the world’s top crude exporter, amount to three billion euros (3.6 billion dollars) annually, compared to 1.3 billion euros (1.5 billion dollars) in exports.
Chirac, whose visit comes some two months after it was announced that the kingdom would buy Typhoon Eurofighter jets from Britain, “wishes to see French companies getting more active in Saudi Arabia,” according to presidential spokesman Jerome Bonnafont.
Chirac will also take part in a French-Saudi economic gathering before inaugurating an Islamic arts exhibit jointly organized by the Louvre and Riyadh museums. On Monday, he will hold a news conference and meet the French community before returning home.