French President Emmanuel Macron insisted on Friday that he had not forgotten the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi as he defended his decision to visit Saudi Arabia during his Gulf tour.
On Saturday, Macron will become one of the first Western leaders to meet the kingdom’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, since Khashoggi was assassinated inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
Khashoggi’s killing sparked international outrage that still resonates. But Macron said it was impossible to engage with the region, ignoring the mighty Saudis.
“Who can think for a second that we can help Lebanon and maintain peace and stability in the Middle East if we say: ‘We don’t talk to Saudi Arabia, the most populous and most powerful country in the Gulf’ going to do it?'” he told the media in Dubai, the first leg of his tour.
“It does not mean that I support anything, that I have forgotten, that we are not seeking partners,” he said, adding that he was “in the interest of our country and of the region.” “Were working.
After an overnight stay in Qatar, another resource-rich Gulf nation, Macron will fly on Saturday to the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah, where France will defend their World Cup football title next year.
On October 2, 2018, Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to submit paperwork to marry his Turkish fiancée. According to US and Turkish officials, a waiting Saudi hit squad strangled her and dismembered her body, which was never retrieved.