French foreign minister to discuss regional issues and trade during visit in Saudi Arabia

French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian
Updated 15 November 2017
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French foreign minister to discuss regional issues and trade during visit in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Political, cultural and economic relations will be on the menu during the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian's visit to Riyadh, which starts today.

Le Drian will be received by King Salman and hold talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Prince Badr bin Farhan and Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir.

The French foreign minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia takes place within the framework of the close bilateral political dialogue that France has with Saudi Arabia. Opportunities to develop economic and cultural relations as part of Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program (NTP) 2020 will also be explored.

Saudi Arabia is France’s largest trading partner in the region. In 2015, French exports to the Kingdom increased by 6 percent to reach more than 3 billion euros, while French imports exceeded 5 billion euros. In 2016, French exports and imports to the Kingdom totalled more than 8 billion euros.

More than 80 French companies operate in Saudi Arabia and employ nearly 28,000 people, including 10,000 Saudis. And 24 Saudi companies have been established in France, employing about 3,200 people and generating a turnover of nearly €350 million.

Le Drian will give a speech at the MiSK Global Forum on Thursday.

He will also participate in the launch of a new range of “FitLife” premium poultry products in the presence of senior Saudi politicians and businessmen.

Le Drian’s visit to Saudi Arabia comes six days after a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron, who met Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman.


Hodeidah offensive: Coalition forces seize weapons supplied by Iran to Houthis

Arab coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki speaks during a press conference in Riyadh. (AN photo by Bashir Saleh)
Updated 20 June 2018
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Hodeidah offensive: Coalition forces seize weapons supplied by Iran to Houthis

  • The arsenal included drones, a sniper rifle, roadside bombs disguised as rocks and even a “drone boat” which had been filled with explosives that failed to detonate.
  • Equipment used to produce and load fuel for rockets that target Saudi Arabia contained Iranian labels.

JEDDAH: Saudi-led coalition officials on Tuesday displayed weapons and explosives supplied by Iran to Houthi militias in the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah. 

The arsenal included drones, a sniper rifle, roadside bombs disguised as rocks and even a “drone boat” which had been filled with explosives that failed to detonate.

Equipment used to produce and load fuel for rockets that target Saudi Arabia contained Iranian labels. The weapons were captured on the battlefield in Hodeidah and displayed at a military base in the UAE. 

“Unsurprisingly, there are advanced military components in the Houthi militias’ hands,” said Talal Al-Teneiji, an official at the UAE Foreign Ministry.

“We took time to inspect and disassemble these to figure out the source ... and we can say that these elements are military-grade materials imported from Iran to the Houthi militias.”

As the week-long offensive in Hodeidah intensified on Tuesday, coalition forces consolidated their grip on the city’s airport and there was new fighting on the main coast road leading to the city center, with Apache helicopters providing air support to the coalition. 

“We can hear the sounds of artillery, mortars and sporadic machinegun fire. The Houthis have been using tanks,” one civilian on the coastal strip said. 

“Water has been cut off to many of the areas near the corniche area because the Houthis have dug trenches and closed water pipes.”

At the airport, which the coalition has controlled since Saturday, their forces stormed the main compound and took full command.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said: “We are waiting for the Houthis to realize the sort of military and psychological blow that they got with the airport ... we are giving them time to decide if they want to save the city ... and pull out.”

Oubai Shahbandar, a strategic communications adviser, told Arab News that “without the sea and airport of Hodeidah, the Houthi militia has effectively lost the war.”

They should agree to UN-hosted peace talks and not prolong the fighting. “The tide in this conflict has clearly turned in favor of the Arab coalition and the welfare of the Yemeni people ought to be paramount,” he said.