Saudi crown prince to discuss militant threat on French trip

A man holds up a knife as he rides on the back of a motorcycle touring the streets of Tabqa city with others in celebration after ISIS militants took over Tabqa air base, in nearby Raqqa city. (File photo: Reuters)

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince will next week visit France and hold talks with French leaders that will touch on the threat posed by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria militants, presidency sources in Paris said Thursday.

Salman bin Abdul Aziz, who is also deputy prime minister and defense minister of Saudi Arabia, will meet President Francois Hollande on Monday and will be treated to an official dinner at the Elysee presidential palace.

The two are likely to touch on a $3-billion (2.3-billion-euro) package of French military equipment and arms for Lebanon’s army that Riyadh has agreed to finance, as Beirut faces the threat of militants on its border with Syria.

Salman is also due to meet Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Wednesday for talks over the situation in Iraq and Syria, where jihadists have seized swathes of territory and are terrorizing Christians and other minorities.

On Thursday, Hollande rejected any cooperation with Bashar al-Assad whom he accused of being a “de-facto ally” of ISIS militants, after the Syrian leader’s regime said it was willing to work with the international community to tackle the militants.

Saudi Arabia itself held a meeting of Arab foreign ministers Sunday to discuss the Syrian conflict and the rise of extremism in the region.

The visit will come just over two weeks after Saudi Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Fahd fell victim to a brazen heist on the Paris ring road when a gang of heavily armed bandits hijacked the lead vehicle of his 10-car convoy and stole at least 250,000 euros and documents.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:44 - GMT 06:44