French President Emmanuel Macron (L) shakes hansd with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud upon his arrival for a work dinner at Elysee palace in Paris, France. Photo by Christophe Petit Tesson/EPA-EFE
July 28 (BP) — French President Emmanuel Macron met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Thursday evening in Paris.
The meeting marked the first time bin Salman has visited Europe on official business since the 2018 killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi inside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul.
A United Nations report later determined the Saudi government, including bin Salman, was responsible Khashoggi’s murder. U.S. intelligence agencies also came to the same conclusion.
Before the meting, French officials said the two men planned to discuss Europe’s energy needs, as Western countries scramble to look for alternatives to Russian oil and gas.
Macron was also expected to raise human rights concerns with the crown prince.
The visit has drawn major criticism.
The group Democracy for the Arab World Now called on France to launch a criminal investigation into bin Salman while on French soil.
“French authorities should immediately open a criminal investigation against Mohammed bin Salman for his role in the gruesome murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” Sarah Leah Whitson, the group’s executive director, said in a press release.
“As a party to the UN Conventions against Torture and Enforced Disappearances, France is obliged to investigate a suspect such as MBS if he is present on French territory,” Whitson said.
The crown prince also faces a civil lawsuit in the United States over the murder, jointly filed by the group and Khashoggi’s fiance, Hatice Cengiz.
President Joe Biden met with bin Salman in Jeddah earlier this month.
Biden, who previously campaigned on making bin Salman a “global pariah,” said he told the crown prince he thought he was personally responsible for the killing of Khashoggi, who was an outspoken critic of the Saudi regime.
Biden said he brought up the issue during a working session with Mohammed and other ministers of the government at Al Salam Royal Palace.