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French President Macron holds talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

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French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Jeddah on Saturday where he was received by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as part of his Gulf tour which began on Friday from the UAE.

Macron and the Saudi Crown prince are expected to discuss regional issues, including the Iran nuclear matter and Lebanon, where Macron has so far failed to convince Gulf Arab states, wary of Iran-backed Hezbollah’s heft, to engage on trying to find a solution.

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Speaking to the press in Dubai, Macron said Saudi Arabia, the most populated and most powerful country in the Gulf, held the key to preserving peace and stability in the Middle East, and also in the French endeavor to assist Lebanon.

Macron also considers Saudi help vital to help forge a region-wide peace deal with Iran.

Earlier on Tuesday, a French presidential source speaking about Macron's upcoming tour to the Gulf states, a French presidential source had said in a statement to Al Arabiya: “It is not possible to imagine an ambitious French policy without dialogue with the Kingdom.”

Macron will fly to the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah on Saturday after an overnight stay in Qatar, the Gulf country where France will defend their World Cup football title next year.

A business delegation of about 100 companies including TotalEnergies, EDF, Thales and Vivendi is due to attend an investment forum during Macron’s trip.

Macron’s visit comes at a time when Gulf Arab states have voiced uncertainty about the US focus on the region even as they seek more weapons from Washington.

- With Reuters, AFP

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