Saad Hariri welcome in France, says Foreign Minister
Saudi Arabia – Lebanon/Iran/Syria – Statements by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, during his joint press conference with Mr Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir, Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs
Riyadh, 16 November 2017
THE MINISTER – I’m very happy to be back again today in Saudi Arabia. I say “back again” because it’s my second visit as Foreign Minister. This must be my eighth visit as a minister, because I had the opportunity to come here, to Saudi Arabia, several times as Defence Minister. The visit falls within the framework of a long-standing partnership, a solid partnership and one we’re determined to progress even further. During the audiences His Majesty The King and His Royal Highness The Crown Prince granted me, and over the course of the substantial discussions which I’ve just had with my colleague and friend, Adel al-Jubeir, we identified many points on which we see eye to eye, both on the major current issues and on our view of the future.
We talked about Lebanon and I repeated France’s concern that the country should maintain its stability and sovereignty, be shielded from outside interference and that its constituent communities should be respected. And we’d like to coordinate to help bring about a return to normality, which we’d like to happen as soon as possible, following Prime Minister Hariri’s resignation.
We talked about the humanitarian situation in Yemen and the measures to be taken so that international assistance can reach the Yemeni people – who really have very urgent need of it – as quickly as possible. The Saudi-led coalition has taken initial steps, which must now be continued and expanded. We talked about regional crises and ways of coordinating our action to help resolve them. I’m particularly thinking of the situation in Syria and Iraq, where the predicted defeat of Daesh [so-called ISIL] is a great cause for satisfaction but also creates new challenges, among other things the search for lasting political solutions in line with people’s many and varied aspirations. We’re winning the war, and we’ve now got to prepare ourselves so that we don’t lose the peace.
We also discussed Iran’s role and the various areas where that country’s actions worry us. I’m thinking in particular of Iran’s interventions in regional crises, that hegemonic tendency. And I’m thinking of its ballistic programme. The nuclear agreement France sought, which France wanted to be robust and demanding, must be protected so that the risk of proliferation is contained. We’ll remain very vigilant on its implementation. Finally, yesterday evening and this morning – during the meetings we’ve just had – we defined together a method to enable France to support the ambitious reforms of Vision 2030, particularly in the economic sphere, and thus strengthen our partnership in this field and do so in the interest of the two countries. This method will be set in motion now, to achieve targets at the beginning of next year, during the visit the Crown Prince will be paying to France.
Thank you for your welcome, cher Adel al-Jubeir; it’s been a great pleasure to be with you today.
Q. – A question about Mr Hariri, who has been the focus of all concerns in recent days. When can we expect Mr Hariri to leave Saudi Arabia?
THE MINISTER – Mr Hariri, whom I’ll be seeing shortly, and his family have been invited to France by President Macron. He’ll visit France when he wants to, and as soon as he wants to. And he’ll be welcomed as a friend.
Q. – France has asked Russia and Iran to cease the offensives in Syria. Are there sincere efforts under way to halt those offensives and the ballistic missile programme in Iran?
THE MINISTER – On the Syria issue, we’d obviously like the fighting to stop. And initiatives were taken in Astana aimed at establishing de-escalation zones that humanitarian aid could reach quickly. So we’d like this to be implemented as quickly as possible. And we know that the Russians and Iranians have the ability to exert pressure for it to stop. That being the case, we must now – as I said in my introductory remarks – enter into a process of preparing the political solution, a political solution which not only respects the whole of Syria, rejects its dislocation, but also respects the various communities that make up Syria. And to that end there’s one place, one instrument, namely Geneva and the United Nations. And so all those involved must be in a situation where they can complete this political process we developed and with which we’re completely in tune. Completely./.