King Salman, Hollande discuss regional issues

King Salman, Hollande discuss regional issues
Updated 05 May 2015

King Salman, Hollande discuss regional issues

King Salman, Hollande discuss regional issues

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman met with French President Francois Hollande here on Monday and discussed the conflicts in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Libya besides other bilateral and regional issues. Later, the king hosted a banquet in honor of Hollande, who will attend the GCC consultative summit as guest of honor here on Tuesday.
“King Salman and French President Hollande, in their wide-ranging talks, reaffirmed their mutual commitment to close defense, security, and commercial cooperation,” said a diplomatic source after the talks. France, a close ally of the Kingdom, has been supporting the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen, he added.
He said that the two leaders discussed the ways and means to ensure peace and security in the Middle East. They focused on the simmering crisis in Yemen and the possible Iranian nuclear deal by the end of June. Saudi Arabia and the GCC member states fear that the deal and the subsequent relief in sanctions could further embolden Iran, which has been meddling in the affairs of the Arab world, particularly in the affairs of the GCC.
Asked about the specifics of the talks, he said that “the two countries have found commonalities on all bilateral and regional issues.” He, however, could not provide specifics of the discussions.
Hollande, who is seeking to strengthen security, political and business ties with the Gulf states, also visited Qatar on Monday before landing in Saudi Arabia.
On Yemen, Saudi Arabia and France have common positions. They have supported the GCC initiative that calls for holding unity talks in Riyadh between rival political forces of Yemen. The GCC foreign ministers in their meeting recently also insisted that the talks be held in Saudi Arabia, which leads an Arab coalition that has been bombing the rebels in Yemen since late March.
According to the itinerary released by the Elysee Palace, Hollande will visit the historic Diriyah site before attending the GCC consultative summit on Tuesday. He is also expected to hold bilateral meetings with other regional leaders during his visit. The current consultative summit has added significance because this is also the first GCC summit to be attended by King Salman after he became king on Jan. 23.