Saudi crown prince arrives in France for final leg of tour of West

Saudi crown prince arrives in France for final leg of tour of West

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will touch down in France today for a three-day visit as part of a whistle-stop tour of key partners, including the US

Mohammad bin Salman France

Photo: Bandar al-Jaloud/AFP/Getty

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will touch down in France today for a three-day visit as part of a whistle-stop tour of key partners, including the US and UK.

This trip is an opportunity for President Macron to manage a delicate relationship with MbS. The last meeting between the two in November was reportedly overshadowed by disagreements over Iran’s nuclear deal and Mr Macron’s intervention to reverse the MbS-pressured resignation of Lebanon’s PM.

MbS is the chief architect of Riyadh’s hardline anti-Iran foreign policies, particularly in in Lebanon and Yemen, both countries in which he has aimed to curb Tehran’s influence.

Mr Macron must walk a tightrope when he meets MbS. He likely views Saudi policies as destabilising to the region but seeks to keep Riyadh on side.

MbS is anticipated to have lobbied Washington about revisiting the Iran nuclear deal; with new anti-Iran sceptics appointed in Washington—Bolton and Pompeo—MbS’ views would likely accord with the White House.

Expect Mr Macron to face similar lobbying to soften France’s pro-Iran deal stance and maintain arms sales to Riyadh despite rising domestic criticism over civilian deaths in Yemen.

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