The crown prince of the kingdom, the leading exporter of crude, was received Thursday evening for a “working dinner” at the Elysée.
This meeting further signals the “rehabilitation” of the de facto leader of the kingdom, less than two weeks after US President Joe Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia.
In a message addressed to Mr Macron, the Crown Prince expressed his “deep gratitude” to him and his “thanks for the warm welcome and hospitality” extended to him during this official visit.
Regarding the global context of soaring energy prices and the war in Ukraine, Mr. Macron underlined during this interview “the importance of continuing the coordination initiated with Saudi Arabia with a view to the diversification energy supplies to European states”.
Discussions included “aspects of the strategic partnership and ways to develop it” and “the importance of stabilizing global energy markets”, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.
Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine sent energy prices into a panic.
Since this invasion, Western countries have been trying to convince Saudi Arabia to open the floodgates in order to relieve the markets.
Rising oil prices are fueling inflation in the United States, which has reached 40-year highs.
Last week, Mr. Macron received the new president of the United Arab Emirates, Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, in Paris. The two countries signed a “comprehensive strategic partnership agreement on energy cooperation”.
– “Business” –
A US official said in an interview with reporters based in the region on Thursday that his country believes “there is definitely an opportunity here to increase production.” “We are optimistic about the possibility of positive announcements at the next OPEC meeting,” he added.
But Ryad is resisting pressure from its allies, citing its commitments to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the oil alliance it co-leads with Moscow.
Saudi Arabia has made it clear that it will not take any action outside of the OPEC cartel. Thus, any increase in production should go through the group, unless the agreement expires and Ryad is free of its commitments.
It was the first visit to France by Mohammed bin Salman, says MBS, since the assassination by Saudi agents of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
A critic of Saudi power, the journalist was killed and dismembered on October 2, 2018 in the premises of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul when he came to get the papers necessary for his marriage.
Saudi Arabia is accused of serious human rights violations.
The visit outraged human rights defenders and the left in France, who accused Emmanuel Macron of sacrificing human rights to “pragmatism” in the face of soaring energy prices.
“I do want business to have its rules, but when you are in France, the country of the declaration of human rights… (…) I observe that he (Macron) shakes hands for a long time to a man who has his hands stained with blood”, reacted Friday the deputy Alexis Corbières (radical left) on the media BFMTV and RMC.
In the two-page press release from the Elysée at the end of the meeting, only the last paragraph mentions the subject of human rights, in a pithy manner: “As part of the dialogue of trust between France and Saudi Arabia, the President of the Republic addressed the issue of human rights in Arabia”.
“There are countries that do not all have the same democratic values of France. But I believe that what would be a mistake would be not to speak, not to try to get things done,” said the French Civil Service Minister Stanislas Guerini on Europe 1 radio.
“There are energy issues”, he noted: “France must be prepared to live in a situation of shortage, which will certainly be the case for gas (…). We must find alternatives “.