Last updated: 28 August, 2014

Saudi crown prince to discuss jihadist threat on French trip

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince will next week visit France and hold talks with French leaders that will touch on the threat posed by Islamic State militants, presidency sources in Paris said Thursday.

Salman bin Abdul Aziz, who is also deputy prime minister and defence minister of Saudi Arabia, will meet President Francois Hollande on Monday and will be treated to an official dinner at the Elysee presidential palace.

The two are likely to touch on a $3-billion (2.3-billion-euro) package of French military equipment and arms for Lebanon’s army that Riyadh has agreed to finance, as Beirut faces the threat of jihadists on its border with Syria.

Salman is also due to meet Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Wednesday for talks over the situation in Iraq and Syria, where jihadists have seized swathes of territory and are terrorising Christians and other minorities.

On Thursday, Hollande rejected any cooperation with Bashar al-Assad whom he accused of being a “de-facto ally” of Islamic State militants, after the Syrian leader’s regime said it was willing to work with the international community to tackle the jihadists.

Saudi Arabia itself held a meeting of Arab foreign ministers Sunday to discuss the Syrian conflict and the rise of extremism in the region.

The visit will come just over two weeks after Saudi Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Fahd fell victim to a brazen heist on the Paris ring road when a gang of heavily armed bandits hijacked the lead vehicle of his 10-car convoy and stole at least 250,000 euros and documents.