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Saudi journalist questions French President Hollande in his mother tongue

Hollande congratulated the Saudi journalist for his French

Published: Updated:

French President Francois Hollande may have been surprised while on a trip to Saudi Arabia this week when a traditionally-dressed Saudi journalist spoke to him in French.

When taking questions during a press conference the French president hosted in the capital Riyadh on Sunday, Saudi reporter Youssef al-Hammadi seized the opportunity and asked Hollande in French about crisis-torn Syria’s future.

“By speaking in French, I wanted to get an exclusive [from] him. I thought no one would understand my question and his answer,” Hammadi told Al Arabiya News.

But eventually the question was translated in both Arabic and English and everyone in the conference room was able to understand the conversation.

Hammadi’s question to Hollande was: “How do you evaluate the consensus between Saudi Arabia and France and how could the Geneva 2 conference help find a moderate regime in Syria?”

Before beginning to answer the question, the French president replied: “First I have to congratulate you for your French…”

French support

On his trip to the Saudi capital, Hollande affirmed his country’s support of the kingdom’s efforts in resolving the Syrian crisis.

“We support the Syrian coalition, and we know what was done by Saudi Arabia to fight the extremists there," Hollande said during the Sunday press conference.

The French president also held talks with Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, and Deputy Premier and Defense Minister Salman bin Abdulaziz and to discuss regional and international issues of common concern as well as the boosting of bilateral ties.

The two leaders discussed regional and international issues of common concern and ways of bolstering bilateral ties, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

During his stay, the French president also met former Lebanese premier Saad Hariri and Syrian moderate opposition leader Ahmed Jarba.