Macron greets Saudi Arabia’s MBS with handshake as he arrives for Elysée visit
Issued on: 28/07/2022 – 21:53
French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday welcomed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) with a long handshake to talks at the Elysée Palace in Paris, amid outrage from rights groups over their meeting.
Macron warmly greeted the kingdom’s de facto ruler ahead of a dinner, AFP TV pictures showed, defying objections from activists who say the talks are deeply inappropriate less than four years after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The crown prince is making his first trip to the European Union since the killing and also held talks in Greece earlier this week.
MBS, dressed in traditional Saudi robes, had a long handshake with Macron, with both men also joining their left hands in a warm four-handed gesture.
Macron then guided MBS up the steps on the red carpet into the Elysée Palace.
Neither man made any comment but a statement is expected later from the Elysée after the talks.
A French presidency official told reporters Macron would bring up human rights questions, including individual cases, as well as discussing oil production and the Iran nuclear deal.
The body language of the talks was always going to be closely watched after a fist bump between US President Joe Biden and MBS earlier this month was seen as a symbol of the crown prince’s reintegration into the international community.
A UN report into the killing of Khashoggi on October 2, 2018 in the Saudi consulate said there was reason to investigate the responsibility of the prince, while US intelligence said he had “approved” an operation to “capture or kill” the journalist, a claim Saudi officials vehemently deny.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)