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Saudi crown prince in Paris for talks on Lebanon arms deal

Saudi King Abdullah, right, talks with Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdel-Aziz in Taif June 19, 2012. (REUTERS/Saudi Press Agency)

PARIS: Saudi Arabia's crown prince arrived in Paris Monday for talks with President Francois Hollande likely to touch on a Saudi-financed French package of arms for Lebanon and the wider jihadist threat in the region.

Salman bin Abdul-Aziz, who is also deputy prime minister and defense minister, will meet Hollande Monday and will be treated to an official dinner at the Elysee presidential palace.

The two are likely to touch on a $3-billion 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 Wednesday for talks over the situation in Iraq and Syria, where jihadists have seized swath of territory and are terrorizing Christians and other minorities.

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

And in comments carried on national TV Saturday, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah warned the West would be the next target of the jihadists sweeping through Syria and Iraq, unless there is "rapid" action.

"If we ignore them, I am sure they will reach Europe in a month and America in another month," he said in remarks quoted Saturday by Asharq al-Awsat daily and Saudi-backed Al-Arabiya television station.

The visit comes 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.

 

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