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Mali crisis in spotlight at Saudi-French defense talks

Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, held talks here yesterday with French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on major regional and international developments.
A French diplomat in Riyadh said the talks focused on Mali intervention.
Prince Salman and Le Drian “discussed topics of common interest, and the latest developments at the regional and international levels,” the SPA said, adding that the French minister handed the crown prince a message from President Francois Hollande to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.
In France, news media reported that the French intervention in Mali would top Le Drian’s agenda in his Riyadh talks. Radio France International (RFI) quoted its correspondent in Riyadh Clarence Rodriguez as saying: “The war in Mali gives a whole new dimension to the coming of the French minister of defense.”
Rodriguez said France explains in the letter to King Abdullah “the underlying reasons for its military intervention in Mali and the real motives of France.” RFI correspondent said the French minister would explain the temporary nature of the involvement in Mali.
“Saudi Arabia, a pole of stability in the region, is committed to the fight against Al-Qaeda,” Rodriguez said, adding that the French official would also discuss with the Saudi officials the crisis in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. The French diplomat told AFP that Le Drian’s visit was planned before the French intervention in Mali.
The French minister also met with Prince Khaled bin Sultan, deputy defense minister, as well as the National Guard chief, Prince Miteb.

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