French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian arrived in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Sunday carrying a message from President Francois Hollande to King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi state news agency reported.
Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz received Le Drian and “discussed topics of common interest between the two countries, and the latest developments at the regional and international arenas,” according to SPA.
In France, news media reported that the French intervention in Mali tops Le Drian’s agenda in the kingdom. Radio France International (RFI) quoted its correspondent in Riyadh Clarence Rodriguez as saying: “The war in Mali gives a whole new dimension to the coming of the French minister of defense.”
Rodriguez said France explains in the letter to King Abdullah “the underlying reasons for its military intervention in Mali and the real motives of France.”
RFI correspondent added that the French defense minister will seek to also explain the temporary nature of the involvement in Mali in order to avoid upsetting the kingdom which yields major political and financial weight on the international stage.
“Saudi Arabia, a pole of stability in the region, is committed since Sept. 11 to the fight against al-Qaeda,” Rodriguez told RFI, adding that the French official will also discuss with the Saudi officials the crisis in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.