Hollande, King Abdullah to discuss Syria, Iran, Lebanon

Hollande, King Abdullah to discuss Syria, Iran, Lebanon
Sun Dec 29, 2013 21:12:58

French President Francois Hollande is set to meet with Saudi Arabian monarch King Abdullah and other top officials of the regime to discuss Middle East developments and economic ties.

The meeting between the French president and the Saudi despot is expected to take place on Sunday and will reportedly involve discussions on a range of issues, including the Syrian crisis, developments in Lebanon, Iran’s nuclear talks with the P5+1 group as well as the Egyptian situation.

During his Saudi visit, Hollande further plans to meet with Western-backed Syrian opposition leader Ahmed Jarba as well as former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a long-time ally of the Saudi regime and also a fierce opponent of the Syrian government and Lebanon’s Islamic resistance movement Hezbollah.

Hollande’s meeting with Hariri comes at a critical juncture and amid rising tension in Lebanon following the Friday assassination of his close aide and ex-cabinet minister Mohammad Shatah in Beirut.

Hariri himself resides outside Lebanon out of fears of threats on his own life, Western news outlets report.

The reported agenda of the French president in Saudi Arabia signals further plans by the former colonial power to further intervene in Middle East affairs in addition to its growing military involvement in West Africa.

According to an AFP report, Hollande is set to meet with King Abdullah in a desert region north of the Saudi capital of Riyadh, accompanied by his top cabinet members, including Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

This is while the top French statesman asserted in a Sunday interview with UK-based Al-Hayat daily that France and Saudi monarchy shared a “will to strive for peace, security and stability in the Middle East.”

The assertion comes despite the shared conviction of Paris and Riyadh that any resolution to the foreign-sponsored Syrian crisis must be based on the precondition of ousting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Regional observers, however, argue that imposing such preconditions on the Syrian nation contradicts a democratic process and violates their right to choose their leaders independently.

Additionally, Hollande noted during his Al-Hayat interview that Saudi Arabia is now “France’s top business partner in the Middle East” – a commerce alliance based on Saudi oil imports and the surging volume of French products exported to the Persian Gulf kingdom.

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