France’s Macron caught in tense exchange with Saudi prince over Khashoggi killing
French President Emmanuel Macron engaged in a mysterious exchange with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G20 summit on Friday, during which French officials say the killing of former Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and the conflict in Yemen were the main subjects.
The Saudi Gazette newspaper posted video of the meeting online, showing the two speaking in hushed tones with their heads close together. In the video, Macron can be seen looking the crown prince in the eye while bin Salman nods his head and, at times, smiles.
France adds that Macron insisted on international experts being part of an investigation into the killing of Khashoggi.
While the conversation is only partly intelligible, a few lines can be made out.
The prince can be heard saying, “Don’t worry,” to which Macron responds, “I am worried.”
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Later in the one-minute clip, Macron says, “You never listen to me.”
The crown prince replies, “I will listen, of course.”
At this point, bin Salman smiles wide, becoming aware of the camera.
At the end, Macron can be heard saying, “I am a man of my word.”
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Representatives from Elysee Palace, the official residence of the president of France, told Reuters that during the exchange, Macron conveyed “very firm” messages to the prince over the killing of the journalist as well as the need to find a solution to the political situation in Yemen.
Bin Salman maintains that he knew nothing of the plot to kill Khashoggi, despite a CIA investigation determining the crown prince was instrumental in orchestrating the alleged murder.
Following the international outcry after Khashoggi’s death, all eyes are on the Saudi prince at the G20 summit.
Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, who arrived amid controversy over Khashoggi’s death, has been ignored by other leaders at public events, although he has held a series of bilateral meetings with them in private.
The prince has already met with several leaders, including Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Argentinian President Mauricio Macri. He was also warmly greeted by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trudeau has largely steered clear of bin Salman during his visit after formally condemning the killing earlier this month.
—With files from Reuters
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