French president and Saudi crown prince agree to 'ease effects' of Ukraine war

Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Emmanuel Macron issue joint statement after meeting

French President Emmanuel Macron welcoming Saudi Arabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. AFP
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Saudi Arabia and France have agreed to boost co-operation on renewable energy, including solar energy and clean hydrogen, and to ease the effects of the war in Ukraine.

Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and French President Emmanuel Macron discussed the importance of stabilising global energy markets and supplies of wheat and grain, a joint statement carried by the Saudi news agency SPA said.

Prince Mohammed expressed the kingdom's appreciation for France's support of the candidacy of the city of Riyadh to host the International Expo 2030.

Prince Mohammed on Thursday concluded an official visit to France after meeting Mr Macron and Unesco director general Audrey Azoulay.

"The president and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia underlined the need to bring an end to this conflict [in Ukraine] and intensify their co-operation to ease the effects in Europe, the Middle East and the wider world," the statement said.

The crown prince arrived in Paris on Thursday, the second stop of his first tour of Europe since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The French-Saudi Arabian talks centred on strengthening the strategic partnership between the two countries in all fields, and to work on continuing the co-ordination and consultation on issues of common interest, SPA reported.

After welcoming Prince Mohammed at the Elysee Palace, Mr Macron hosted a private dinner for him and the visiting Saudi Arabian officials.

“As I leave your friendly country, it gives me great pleasure to express to your excellency my deepest gratitude and appreciation for the warm reception and hospitality accorded to me and the accompanying delegation,” Prince Mohammed said in a message to Mr Macron.

The meeting between Prince Mohammed and Ms Azoulay was also attended by Prince Badr bin Abdullah, Minister of Culture and chairman of the National Committee for Education, Science and Culture, and Princess Haifa bint Abdulaziz, Saudi Arabia's permanent representative to Unesco.

Before Paris, Prince Mohammed spent two days in Greece where he met Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

In April, Saudi Arabia committed $25 million to Unesco's strategy and actions for the preservation of heritage.

The French president travelled to the kingdom in December 2021 for talks with Prince Mohammed.

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, oil-rich countries in the region have welcomed a flurry of high-profile visits from Europe and the US amid growing concerns over energy supplies from Moscow, the subject of heavy sanctions.

Energy was high on the agenda of European and US officials during their visits to Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter.

The West's re-engagement with the Middle East comes as the region’s heavyweights increasingly perceive the world as multipolar.

Updated: July 29, 2022, 12:52 PM
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