PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday welcomed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to talks at the Elysee Palace in Paris with a long handshake, despite outrage from rights groups over their meeting.
Macron warmly greeted the kingdom´s de-facto ruler ahead of a dinner, AFP TV pictures showed, defying objections from activists the talks are deeply inappropriate less than four years after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The prince, known as MBS, is making his first trip to Europe since the killing and also held talks in Greece earlier this week.
MBS, dressed in traditional Saudi robes, enjoyed a long handshake with Macron, with both men also joining their left hands in a warm four-handed gesture.
Macron then guided MBS up the steps on the red carpet into the Elysee Palace.
Neither man made any comment but a statement is expected later from the Elysee after the talks.
The body language of the talks was always going to be closely watched after a fist-bump between US President Joe Biden and MBS earlier this month was seen as a symbol of his reintegration into the international community.
A UN report into the killing of Khashoggi on October 2, 2018 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul said there was reason to investigate the responsibility of the prince while US intelligence said he had sanctioned it, a claim the Saudis vehemently deny.
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