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France Calls for Calm between U.N., Riyadh | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Jean-Marc Ayrault, French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, attends a press conference at the United Nations in New York, June 10, 2016. KENA BETANCUR / AFP

United Nations-French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called Friday to do all what it necessary to resolve the row between the United Nations and Saudi Arabia over the report on the violation of children’s rights, saying France could help defuse tensions.

“Saudi Arabia is a partner in the fight against ISIS,” Ayrault said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has accused Saudi Arabia of pressuring him to take the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen off the blacklist.

But Saudi Arabia denied on Thursday that it had threatened to cut off funding to U.N. aid programs to pressure the organization into removing the coalition’s name from the blacklist of countries and organizations that violate children’s rights.

Ayrault, whose country currently holds the rotating Security Council presidency, chaired a session devoted to the role of U.N. peacekeepers protecting civilians in armed conflict.

“We have to do everything to appease the situation,” Ayrault told reporters at the U.N. headquarters in New York.

“France is always there when it comes to safeguarding the U.N.’s capacity to take action,” he added.

Ayrault was keen on reminding the session’s participants of the protection of civilians, mainly children, in armed conflicts.

“All parties should make a pledge to respect that … As for Yemen, I reiterate the importance of working swiftly to help achieve peace,” he said. “I told this to all those whom I have met, including Saudi Arabia.”

But the French minister did not express a clear support to Ban’s report against Riyadh, as Agence France Press reported.

The U.N. chief had said that the Saudi pressure included the withdrawal of funds to several U.N. agencies.

But Saudi Ambassador Abdullah al-Mouallimi denied that his government had put pressure on the organization to reverse its decision by threatening to cut off millions of dollars in funding.

“We did not use threats or intimidation and we did not talk about funding,” he said.

“We only clarified things and if Ban considered it as a threat, then it is his problem,” the diplomat added.