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Macron greets Saudi Arabia’s MBS with handshake as he arrives for Elysée visit

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French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday welcomed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) with a long handshake at talks at the Elysée Palace in Paris, amid outrage from human rights groups over their meeting.

Macron warmly greeted the de facto ruler of the kingdom for dinner, AFP TV pictures showed, defying objections from activists who say the talks are highly inappropriate, less than four years after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The crown prince is making his first trip to the European Union since the assassination and also held talks in Greece earlier this week.

Dressed in traditional Saudi robes, MBS had a long handshake with Macron, with both men also joining their left hands in a warm four-handed gesture.

Macron then led MBS up the red carpet steps to the Elysée Palace.

Neither man commented, but a statement is expected later from the Elysée after the talks.

A French presidency official told reporters Macron would raise human rights issues, including individual cases, as well as discuss oil production and the Iran nuclear deal.

The body language of the talks would always be closely watched after a fistfight between US President Joe Biden and MBS earlier this month was seen as a symbol of the Crown Prince’s reintegration into the international community.

A UN report on the October 2, 2018 murder of Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate said there was cause to investigate the prince’s responsibility, while US intelligence said it had “approved” an operation to “capture the journalist”. or kill,” one Saudi officials vehemently deny.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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