In view of the ties of friendship and close cooperation uniting Saudi Arabia and France, and in response to the generous invitation by His Excellency M. François Hollande, President of the French Republic, His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister of Saudi Arabia, paid an official visit to France from 1 to 4 September 2014. During his visit, His Royal Highness met President François Hollande, Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Foreign Affairs and International Development Minister Laurent Fabius and Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. The meetings provided an opportunity for official discussions between the two parties, in the spirit of respect and solid friendship uniting the two countries. They provided an opportunity to look at and study the prospects for bilateral cooperation in every field and ways of deepening and strengthening it in the interest of both countries and of their two friendly peoples. The two parties discussed the historic visit that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, His Majesty King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, paid to France in 2007, and the visit that President François Hollande paid to Saudi Arabia last year, both of which enabled the strategic partnership between the two countries to be consolidated.
The two parties expressed satisfaction with the solidity of the excellent French-Saudi relations and with their development in every field: politics, security, the economy, finance, trade, industry, education and culture. In this context, they noted the defence cooperation between the two countries and emphasized the importance of strengthening their strategic partnership, in the interests of the two countries and the two peoples.
Both parties reaffirmed the need to continue implementing this partnership in every aspect of economic cooperation, and particularly in the areas of finance, the economy, trade and joint investment. The Saudi Finance Minister and the French Foreign Affairs and International Development Minister will meet to finalize this.
Saudi Arabia and France welcomed the excellent defence cooperation existing between the two countries. They stressed the need to continue developing their cooperation, especially through closer cooperation between the two countries’ armed forces.
They expressed their desire to intensify their operational and capabilities cooperation, particularly in the naval field. In this context, France expressed readiness to support the Saudi navy’s plan to acquire patrol speedboats in order to strengthen its naval capabilities and to work to equip the Saudi air force with in-flight refuelling and MRTT planes.
The two countries agreed to continue their fruitful cooperation in the field of air defence and develop new capabilities, notably in the satellite field.
The two countries welcomed the success of the exhibition on the Hajj at the Arab World Institute which His Excellency M. François Hollande, President of the French Republic, inaugurated on 22 April 2014. They agreed to boost their cooperation in the cultural and artistic sphere, especially by organizing cultural events in both countries.
They also reviewed the development of the situation in the Middle East and around the world – of interest to the two friendly countries – and their respective positions regarding it. Given the importance of the role they play and of the efforts they are making to protect security, stability and peace in the world and in the Middle East in particular, both parties expressed their deep concern about the current events in the region, especially the heightened danger posed by the phenomenon of terrorism and extremism, and in this regard they noted the appeal which the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, recently issued to the world’s leaders to combat terrorism as swiftly as possible before it spreads even further. They also emphasized the importance of supporting the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre and repeated that terrorism is a global phenomenon that threatens all societies, regardless of ethnicity or religious beliefs. In this context, they agreed to step up their cooperation in the security field.
Regarding the Palestinian question and the Gaza crisis, both parties firmly condemned the violence of which civilians have been the first victims and its impact on various essential buildings and infrastructures in Gaza. They offered their support for the agreement brokered by Egypt. In keeping with their wish to preserve regional and international security and stability, the two parties expressed the hope of achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in accordance with the Arab peace initiative and the principles of international law.
The two parties expressed their deep concern over the danger represented by the situation in Syria, and about the fact that the blood of innocents continues to be spilled. They stated that the Syrian regime, which has lost its legitimacy, bears responsibility for this situation, and emphasized the urgent need to seek a political and peaceful solution to the Syria crisis that fully implements the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012, which called for the establishment of a transitional governing body with full executive powers. They also stressed the need to redouble international efforts to meet the aspirations of the Syrian people, notably to end the bloodshed and stabilize the country. They emphasized how important it is to continue humanitarian assistance and relief operations for Syrian refugees, and to encourage the international community to increase its aid to Syrians both inside and outside the country.
As for Yemen, both parties offered their support for the Security Council communiqué reflecting a very deep concern over the deterioration in Yemen’s security situation following acts committed by Houthis and their supporters to scuttle the the political transition and security process in that country, and the escalation of the campaign of these Houthis, who exert intolerable pressure on the Yemeni authorities and are jeopardizing the political transition process engaged by President Hadi, with the establishment of camps in Sana’a and its environs. The Houthis are also attempting to seize state authority by setting up checkpoints on strategic roads leading to Sana’a, in addition to the battles they are waging in Al Jawf and other parts of Yemen. Both parties strongly denounced these acts and reaffirmed their rejection of any foreign interference aimed at exacerbating conflicts and destabilizing the country, and they emphasized the need to respect international law and abide by the initiative of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the political process under way in the country.
Both parties also reaffirmed their support for Lebanon’s unity, security and stability through its official institutions, notably its armed forces, and emphasized the need to swiftly elect a president who unites all the parties in order for Lebanon to overcome the current crisis.
Both parties accepted the consensus reached in Iraq that led to the appointment of a prime minister and enabled a new president and parliamentary speaker to take office, and called for the swift formation of a national unity government representing all components of Iraqi society, noting that this is the only path enabling the country to end the current crisis and embark on a lasting recovery. Both parties stressed the importance of preserving Iraq’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Saudi party welcomed the French initiative to hold a conference on Iraq’s security, with the understanding that consultations on this subject will subsequently be held with the concerned parties and the League of Arab States.
Both parties asked Iran to cooperate fully with the 5+1 group on the nuclear issue, whose resolution – as part of a long-term agreement ensuring the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme – would represent a significant contribution to current international efforts to make the Middle East a a zone free of weapons of mass destruction. This would be in the supreme interest of all the inhabitants of the region and the world.
His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud expressed his thanks and his consideration to President François Hollande, the Prime Minister, the government and the French people for the warm welcome and hospitality they extended to him and the delegation that accompanied him during this visit./.