NNA – French President Emmanuel Macron was hosting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Thursday as part of increased Western efforts to court the major oil-producing state amid the war in Ukraine and faltering talks to revive a nuclear deal with Iran.
French opposition figures and human rights groups have criticised Macron’s decision to invite to dinner at the Elysee Palace a man Western leaders believe ordered the murder in 2018 of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“The rehabilitation of the murderous prince will be justified in France as in the United States by arguments of realpolitik. But it’s actually bargaining that predominates, let’s face it,” Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard said on Twitter ahead of Prince Mohammed’s visit.
Macron, who last December became the first Western leader to visit Saudi Arabia since the Khashoggi affair, has dismissed criticism of his efforts to engage the crown prince by saying the kingdom was too important to be ignored.—Reuters