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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Macron arrives in Riyadh to meet Saudi Crown Prince amid tensions with Iran

Mr Macron flew from the UAE to Saudi Arabia, only announcing the surprise trip on Thursday morning

French President Emmanuel Macron flew to Riyadh to meet with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. SPA
French President Emmanuel Macron flew to Riyadh to meet with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. SPA

France’s president Emmanuel Macron has arrived in Riyadh on a surprise trip to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, following an escalation in tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran over Lebanon and Yemen.

Mr Macron flew in from the UAE on Thursday night, having made the decision to visit the Kingdom earlier that day.

The French President earlier condemned Iran after reports surfaced that the country had financed Houthi militia in Yemen with ballistic missiles, including the missile which targeted Riyadh on Saturday night.

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“The missile which was intercepted by Saudi Arabia launched from Yemen, which obviously is an Iranian missile, shows precisely the strength of their program,” Mr Macron said at a news conference held at a French school in Dubai.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has described Iran's supply of missiles to Houthi rebels as an act of war against Saudi Arabia.

“I believe it’s important that we work with Saudi Arabia for the purpose of guaranteeing stability in the region and the fight against terrorism,” Mr Macron added.

The French President said he would also talk with the Crown Prince about the growing crisis in Lebanon, after Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s resignation on Saturday.

Mr Hariri announced his resignation in a televised address from Saudi Arabia, in which he accused Iran and Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite group Hizbollah of stirring trouble in Arab states and saying he feared assassination.

Mr Macron said his talks with the prince would focus on “regional questions, in particular Yemen and Lebanon”.

The visit comes at the end of a two-day visit to the UAE, in which Mr Macron attended the much-anticipated opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi.