Saudi Arabia, France issue joint statement after crown prince visit concludes

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Saudi Arabia and France have issued a joint statement to mark the state visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to France, which concluded on Wednesday.

According to the statment issued on Saudi Press Agency, the Saudi crown prince met with French President Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Defense Florence Parly and Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire.

At the Elysée Palace, the crown prince co-chaired the first meeting of the Saudi-French Strategic Partnership Council, which was attended by a number of ministers and senior officials of the two governments.

"President Macron held an official dinner banquet in honor of HRH the Crown Prince who conveyed greetings of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to His Excellency and conveyed to President Macron an invitation of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," the joint statement read.

Macron welcomed the invitation and "sent a message of friendship and great respect to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques," the statement added.

The statement also said that the two countries' commitments will open a new and promising chapter in their relationship within framework of developing a new strategic partnership covering the political, defense, security, economic, cultural, scientific and educational areas of their relationship into new horizons.

The communiqué published by Saudi Press Agency highlighted areas of agreement between the two states:

International and regional politics

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and France share a common objective to realize peace and stability, in the Middle East. The ministers of foreign affairs, in the two countries will work towards deepening consultations and coordination to back up political solutions. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and France will work towards tackling world challenges facing international community, including climate change and human development and the joint action of the two countries will decisively contribute to these domains.

Defense and security

The wide-scale and multi-faceted security cooperation, has made counterterrorism a priority to both Saudi Arabia and France, with especial interest in combating terrorism and terrorism funding, and that their close cooperation, in this regard, will expand regional efforts as well as multi-partite endeavors and making them more effective and they will work towards making Paris Conference to combat terrorism funding, set to take place on 25-26 April, a success. France, also, will contribute to back up Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's efforts to upgrade its ministry of defense.

Economy, commerce and investment

Deepening commerce and investment is beneficial to the two countries' economies, as the Kingdom Vision 2030 is an opportunity to explore new domains, in business and cooperation in the main sectors for cooperation such as water and environment, connected sustainable cities, transport, energy, health, agriculture and water supply.

The French know-how in the domain of technology is of a great importance for all domains, as its impact would be tangible, in all fields and the financial investments between big and upstart companies, will be encouraged.

During the visit, a forum for Saudi and France chief executive officers has been held and attended by executives from the two countries. The forum facilitated presenting offers and making in-depth discussions related to the Kingdom Vision 2030 projects and instituted significant communication between the two parties, culminating in co-signing of a host of contracts and MoUs reflecting the new dynamics of economic as well as technological bonds between the two countries.

Academic, cultural and scientific cooperation

The renewal of the partnership framework between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of France will redefine cooperation priorities between the two countries. The two countries will establish programs in the fields of education, training, research, innovation, culture, heritage, tourism, sport and youth. The Republic of France will share its tourism and heritage skills in the interest of the Kingdom Vision 2030.

The new partnership, which embodies the efforts exerted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in developing a sustainable tourism and heritage sector in Al-Ula province with the participation of international partners, aims to enhance the cooperation in all these fields through tangible procedures and structural projects in addition to existing projects in this regard.

In the field of cultural heritage, an agreement on the development of Al-Ula province was co-signed by Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud, Governor of the Royal Commission for Al-Ula and Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France. This cooperation highlights the joint vision between the two countries to maintain and promote the cultural heritage, enhance scientific knowledge, and inaugurate new ways of sustainable tourism for this unique archaeological site.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Royal Commission for Al-Ula and Campus France was signed in the field of training students from Al-Ula province and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Royal Commission for Al-Ula and the Arab World Institute to establish a movable exhibition.

Middle East issues

In the field of regional and international issues, the two sides held deep discussions where they highlighted their commitment to the peace and security in the Middle East. They also discussed the current situation in the Eastern Ghouta, including the recent reports on using chemical weapons. The two sides called upon the international community to hold the involved in these attacks accountable. The two countries reiterated their stance that the solution of the Syrian crisis must be based on a political solution based on Geneva 1 Declaration and UN Security Council resolution no. 2254 - 2015.

The two countries reiterated their firm commitment to confront extremism and terrorism, and combat their financing, including Sahel region. The Republic of France praised the Kingdom's great support for the joint military force in five Sahel countries.

Situation in Yemen

With regard to Yemen, both sides affirmed the need for a political solution, as it was called by Security Council Resolution 2216-2015, to end the suffering of the Yemeni people. The two sides condemned ballistic missile attacks by the Houthi militias on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and reaffirmed the importance of compliance of the countries providing the Houthi militias with weapons and ballistic missiles, with relevant UN resolutions prohibiting such acts.

The two sides reiterated the importance of supporting efforts of the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for Yemen to reach a political solution for the Yemeni crisis. In a parallel context, the Republic of France affirmed its readiness to support the Coalition Supporting the Legitimacy, in Yemen, and UN agencies to accelerate delivery of humanitarian aid to all Yemenis, including $1 billion humanitarian response plan committed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The Kingdom and the Republic of France agreed to organize an international conference in Paris on humanitarian aid in Yemen. The two countries also reaffirmed their readiness to enhance cooperation with other friendly countries on the security and development of the Red Sea.

They also affirmed their commitment to the stability, unity and sovereignty of Lebanon as reflected in their pledges and stances, at the Cedar Conference held on 6 April 2018, in Paris, stressing the need for all Lebanese parties to abide by the principle of keeping away from the regional conflicts.

Regional conflicts

With regard to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the two countries reiterated their call for a two-state solution based on the relevant UN resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative. The two sides agreed on the need to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. They discussed the steps that will be taken to curb Iran's ballistic program and stop destabilizing aspects of its regional policy.

They pointed out that supplying militias, as well as armed groups, including the groups classified as terrorist organizations by UN, with arms and support is unacceptable. They also pointed out that Iran must abide by international laws and principles regarding good neighborliness and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries.

The two sides reaffirmed that the relationship between the two countries has been moved to new horizons because of the state historic visit paid by HRH the Crown Prince to the Republic of France. Both sides expressed looking forward to the visit of President Macron to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to further move the relationship between them to wider horizons.