Crown Prince MBS: Saudi Will Join Response to Chemical Attack If Needed

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Saudi Arabia's crown prince wrapped up his visit to France yesterday, geared toward shoring up cooperation while addressing the lurking strategic differences between the two countries on a series of crises across the Middle East.

French President Emmanuel Macron will dine with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri on Tuesday, a diplomatic move aimed at showing the young leader can play a mediator role in the region.

"This period of ambiguity and confusion is now behind us thanks to the efforts from all sides and the personal implication of President Macron", Moueen Merhebi, an MP in Hariri's party, told AFP in Beirut on Tuesday.

Macron tweeted a picture of the pair at the Louvre looking at the 19th-century masterpiece Liberty Leading The People by revolutionary painter Eugene Delacroix, which shows Liberty as a bare-breasted woman.

Lawyer Joseph Breham, representing a Yemeni human rights group, is suing the crown prince, now in France on an official visit, for his leading role in the Saudi-led coalition's airstrikes fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The kingdom also revealed Monday that it would enter short films at the Cannes cinema festival for the first time and send an official delegation to the celebration of often edgy and subversive silver-screen art on the Riviera this May.

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The Kingdom has witnessed rapid change in its policies since the appointment of Crown Prince Mohammed Salman, son of the king and heir to the throne in June.

The Arms Under Control coalition's plea concerned Spanish manufacturer Navantia's planned sale of five warships to the kingdom, which the rights groups say would be used in Saudi Arabia's deadly military campaign against Yemen.

After Paris, the Saudi Arabia's crown prince will head to Madrid, before heading home ahead of the next Arab League summit meeting, on April 15 in Riyadh.

Saudi national oil company Aramco and French oil giant Total also announced a deal worth $9bn that would see the construction of a petrochemical complex in Jubail, Saudi Arabia.

The kingdom is the lead partner in a coalition of countries bombing and blockading Yemen, where a combination of fighting, disease and food shortages has led the United Nations to dub it the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Three out of four French people believe it is "unacceptable" for France to continue selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, according to a poll last month by independent research group YouGov.

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