RIYADH: French Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Francois Gouyette has praised the partnership between Paris and Riyadh, saying that the relationship is the best it has ever been.
Speaking after a meeting with Tabuk Gov. Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, the envoy added that France is a strategic partner of the Kingdom and seeks to develop these fraternal ties by promoting scientific, cultural and commercial exchanges.
As part of this mission, he said, there have been discussions about various types of cooperation, and one of the objectives of his Tabuk visit is to identify opportunities for the two nations to work as partners in a variety of fields. These include the mega-development projects that have been launched in the Kingdom, including Qiddiya, Neom, the Red Sea Project, and the Amaala Project.
Gouyette also expressed his appreciation for the historic status of the Tabuk region, and visited Tabuk University where he learned about the campus and its 16 faculties, which host more than 25,000 students who, he said, will play important roles in shaping the country’s future.
He also commended Saudi Arabia for the vital role it plays in achieving stability in the world, politically and economically, with particular reference to the Kingdom’s preparations to host the 15th annual G-20 Leaders’ Summit next year.
Underlining the importance of the historic relationship between the countries, the envoy said that as part of efforts to strengthen bilateral ties France recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of late King Faisal’s visit to Paris. Following his meeting with French President Charles de Gaulle in 1967, relations between the countries evolved through a series of high-level visits, including two trips to France by King Khalid, in 1978 and 1981. The first French president to visit the Kingdom was Valery Giscard d’Estaing, in 1977. He returned twice, in 1980 and 1981. King Fahd embarked on two official trips to France, in 1984 and 1987, and King Abdullah also visited twice, in 1985 and 1999. French President Jacques Chirac came to the Kingdom in 1997, and again in 2001 and 2006.
The increasingly close relationship between the two nations was also evident in the fact that former French President Francois Hollande paid four visits to the Kingdom following his election in 2012. His final official visit, in May 2015, was particularly historic; in addition to meeting King Salman and other senior officials, he was invited to attend the 15th meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a rare honor for a foreign leader. This month, France also marked the first anniversary of the visit by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in April 2018.