France's Prez Emmanuel Macron and Saudi prince discuss response to Syria

France's Prez Emmanuel Macron and Saudi prince discuss response to Syria

After a tense first exchange between the two leaders in Riyadh last November that was dominated by a difference of opinion on how to handle Riyadh's regional rival Iran, Mr. Macron and Prince Mohammed sought to get to know each other and work on what they have in common rather than their differences.

It appeared created to send a message of reconciliation after Hariri was allegedly pressured to resign by the Saudi royal during a trip to Riyadh last November, causing a crisis which Macron helped defuse.

He and Macron stated their conflicting views over the Iran nuclear deal, which both Saudi Arabia and the USA strongly criticize.

Macron invited Hariri to Paris for talks and he later rescinded his resignation, a development that analysts say exposed the limits of the prince's authority.

Macron and Prince Mohammed met for almost three hours Sunday at the Louvre museum, where they visited an exhibition of 19th century painter Eugene Delacroix, creator of the famous "Liberty Leading The People" painting.

The painting features a bare-breasted woman holding the French tricolour, an image that would be banned in Saudi Arabia for its nudity and its subversive political message.

Bin Salman, who was defense minister when Saudi Arabia launched the war in Yemen, allegedly provided the means and instructions for these crimes of torture to be committed, the lawyer said.

US President Donald Trump has chose to cancel his first official trip to Latin America this week to focus on responding to the chemical weapons attack in Syria, the White House said on Tuesday.

The memoranda of understanding cover sectors including petrochemicals, water treatment, tourism, health, agricultural, and cultural activities, the French-Saudi business forum said in a statement.

They planned to discuss a "strategic partnership" that would lead to contracts by the time Macron visits Saudi Arabia at the end of the year, the French presidency said.

Amid the flurry of announcements in France, campaigners mobilised to keep attention focused on French weapons exports to Saudi Arabia and rights abuses in the country.

"We are so excited today to be announcing a history and new era for the kingdom, and for the entire Arab world, which is Arab Fashion Week", said Jacob Abrian, CEO of the Arab Fashion Council.

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.

Saudi Arabia was France's second-biggest client for both arms deliveries and new arms orders in 2016, according to official data.