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France, Saudi Arabia agree on need to curb Iranian 'expansionism'

11 April 2018

Speaking at a joint news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron at the end of a three-day visit to Paris, the Crown Prince said, "If our alliance with our partners requires it, we will be present".

Macron said the two countries had tactical differences on how to deal with the Iran nuclear deal, but they agreed on the need to curb Tehran's regional expansionism, and France refused to accept its ballistic attacks on Saudi Arabia.

The kingdom is the lead partner in a coalition of countries bombing and blockading Yemen, where a combination of fighting, disease and food shortages has led the United Nations to dub it the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

"The team is preparing to deploy to Syria shortly", it added, saying the OPCW's director general Ahmet Uzumcu wants the team "to establish facts surrounding these allegations."The White House on Tuesday abruptly announced the cancellation of US President Donald Trump's first trip to Latin America, scheduled for later this week, saying he wants to "oversee the American response to Syria".

Macron said he would decide "in the coming days" on his response, in conjunction with the U.S. and Britain.

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During his trip to Spain on Thursday, Prince Mohammed bin Salman will meet King Felipe VI and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy - "a meeting during which bilateral agreements will be signed", read the Spanish government's agenda, without giving more details.

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Just last November, Hariri surprised the world by tendering his resignation on live television from Riyadh, apparently under pressure from Prince Mohammed.

"This period of ambiguity and confusion is now behind us thanks to the efforts from all sides and the personal implication of President Macron", Moueen Merhebi, an MP in Hariri's party, told AFP in Beirut on Tuesday.

While Mr. Macron made no specific references to human rights or freedoms in the kingdom, he had perhaps opted to push a more subtle message two days earlier in a private dinner and tour of the Louvre museum, including an exhibition of revolutionary 19th-century French painter Eugene Delacroix.

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"Fashion has always an interest of Saudi Arabia".

The kingdom also revealed on Monday that it will enter short films at next month's Cannes film festival for the first time, a further sign of Prince Mohammed's modernising mission.

When asked whether Saudi Arabia could be part of such a response, Jubeir declined to comment.

Amid the flurry of announcements in France, campaigners are also mobilised to keep attention focused on French weapons exports to Saudi Arabia and rights abuses in the country.

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France, Saudi Arabia agree on need to curb Iranian 'expansionism'