(Photo Credit: SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) received French Foreign Minister Catherine Colanna on 1 February to discuss various avenues for bolstering bilateral relations in all fields, according to Saudi Press Agency.
MbS and Colanna addressed several international and regional developments. Officials from both sides were also present during the meeting.
The French foreign minister is currently visiting the Gulf states to expand cooperation with GCC nations. This comes after the French Naval forces claimed to have seized thousands of weapons headed from Iran to Yemen last month, including automatic rifles and anti-tank missiles. These weapons are suspected of being delivered to the Yemeni resistance movement Ansarallah.
French sources reported that the French naval forces seized over 3,000 assault rifles, 500,000 rounds of ammunition, and 20 anti-tank guided missiles, according to the Wall Street Journal.
However, according to Al Mayadeen, official Iranian sources denied claims regarding France’s weapon seizures of Iranian weapons to Yemen.
Colanna previously disclosed to London-based Asharq Al-Awsat that Paris is coordinating with Riyadh to ensure stability in West Asia. She added that Tehran is adopting an “escalatory approach” via its destabilizing activities in the region concerning its alleged arms deliveries to Yemen’s resistance movement.
She also emphasized that Paris can rely on the UAE and Saudi Arabia “as they are the poles of stability in the region,” affirming her support for the crown prince’s 2030 vision.
Since the beginning of the Saudi-led coalition’s invasion of Yemen in 2015, France has been an integral arms supplier to the kingdom.
Last year, Yemen’s Al-Khabar al-Yemeni reported that the French ambassador to Yemen, Jean-Marie Safa, met with several UAE-allied tribal chiefs, to kickstart a France-UAE deal to produce liquefied natural gas (LNG). Paris and Abu Dhabi reportedly coordinated to loot Yemen’s gas resources.
In August 2022, Yemen’s National Salvation Government (NSG) expressed concern over what the group perceived as “suspicious” activity by US and French soldiers stationed in the South of Yemen. France’s Foreign Legion was deployed in Yemen last year to secure control of the Sanaa’s Balhaf gas facility.
France and the UAE signed an $18 billion deal on 4 December 2021, which included the sale of 80 French Rafale jets and 12 helicopters to Abu Dhabi.
To date, France’s defense ministry considers the sale one of Paris’ largest-ever weapons contracts.