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Emmanuel Macron, Mohammed bin Salman agree to deals worth $18bn

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    Saudi crown prince and France’s president held a joint press conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris [Bandar Algaloud/Saudi Kingdom Council]

    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman concluded a three-day visit to France after securing 19 draft contracts between French and Saudi companies worth more than $18bn.

    According to a statement by the French-Saudi Business Forum, the memorandums of understanding cover industrial sectors such as petrochemicals and water treatment, as well as tourism, culture, health and agriculture.

    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.

    Before the trip, Saudi and French officials stressed that cultural ties, as well as new business opportunities, would be at the heart of the talks between government and private-sector figures from both countries.

    Analysis: Saudi crown prince supports Israeli right to land

    At a joint news conference with the Saudi prince on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced he would visit Riyadh at the end of 2018 to sign the contracts.

    He also said the two sides agreed on the necessity to respond to the chemical attack on the Syrian city of Douma, in addition to the need to “reduce Iran’s ballistic activities and expansionism in the region”.

    This marked a change of direction for Macron, who had previously clashed with Saudi Arabia after expressing he was committed to the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal.

    Bin Salman said Iran would build a nuclear bomb in a year or two if it restarted its nuclear programme.

    The French president also expressed concern for the humanitarian situation in Yemen, which has been under bombardment by a Saudi Arabia-led coalition for the past three years.

    “We will continue to be extremely vigilant on this point,” Macron said. “It is obvious that we will not tolerate any ballistic activity that threatens Saudi Arabia.”

    View the original article:

    Macron hosted a gala send-off dinner for the crown prince at the Elysee Palace. Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who is in Paris, also attended.

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