| 21 April 2024, Sunday |

Macron, Saudi’s crown prince call for ‘rapid end to political vacuum in Lebanon’

According to the Elysee, French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Paris for discussions on Friday. During the meeting, the two leaders emphasized the importance of swiftly resolving the institutional political void in Lebanon.
In the meeting, it was expected that the French president will seek support from MBS, as he is known widely, in finding a solution to the leadership crisis in Lebanon.

On Wednesday, Lebanese lawmakers failed to elect a new president for the 12th time, as the country faced the risk of a prolonged power vacuum due to bitter divisions between Iran-backed Hezbollah and its opponents.
A president’s prolonged absence “remains the major obstacle to resolving the country’s severe socio-economic crisis”, stated the French presidency.

The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine was also discussed by the two leaders. Macron expressed his “profound concern in the face of Russia’s war of aggression… its disastrous impact on the civilian populations and its repercussions on food security”, his office stated.

The president and Saudi’s crown prince “also reiterated their shared commitment to security and stability in the Near and Middle East and expressed their desire to pursue their joint efforts to bring about a lasting easing of tensions”, it added.

They intended to “develop and deepen the partnership between the two countries”, stated Elysee. Paris was also ready “to support Saudi Arabia in strengthening its defence capabilities”, the statement read.
The trip of the 37-year-old crown prince has been organised less than a year after he had last visited the Elysee Palace and highlights the warm relationship between Riyadh and Paris that has irked rights activists in the wake of Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi’s killing that took place in 2018.

The crown prince is likely to stay in France for a long duration as he is also scheduled to attend a Paris summit on a New Global Financing Pact which has been hosted by Macron on June 22-23.

MBS is also set to attend on Monday an official Saudi reception for the candidacy of Riyadh to host Expo 2030, a bid for which France’s strong support is being sought by Saudi Arabia.

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