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Macron heard warning bin Salman after Saudi crown prince tells him not to worry: 'I am worried'

Elysee says video shows 'contrast between MbS's face sporting an embarrassed smile and the president's stern face', during extraordinary exchange about murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Yemen war

Samuel Osborne
Friday 30 November 2018 16:16 GMT
Emmanuel Macron and Mohammed Bin Salman meet at G20 in Argentina

An extraordinary exchange between Emmanuel Macron and Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has been caught on video.

In audio of the conversation, which covered the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the ongoing Yemen war, it is possible to make out Saudi Arabia‘s de-facto leader saying “Don’t worry,” to which the French president responds: “I am worried”.

The Saudi Gazette newspaper posted a video of the meeting online, showing the two speaking in hushed tones with their heads close together on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina.

During the video, Mr Macron can be seen looking the crown prince in the eye as Prince Mohammed nods his head and smiles at times.

Later in the one-minute clip posted on Twitter, Mr Macron says: “You never listen to me,” and Prince Mohammed replies: “I will listen, of course.”

At the end of the video, Mr Macron can be heard saying: “I am a man of my word.”

France’s Elysee Palace said the video showed “a sort of contrast between MbS’s face sporting an embarrassed smile and the [French] president’s face, which was rather stern, and was keen to convey these messages in a very firm manner.”

An official said Mr Macron conveyed ”very firm” messages to the prince over the murder of Khashoggi and on the need to find a political solution for the situation in Yemen.

They said the French president said Europeans would insist on international experts being part of the investigations into the Saudi journalist’s murder.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry tweeted a picture of Prince Mohammed talking to Mr Macron, but did not go into further detail about the exchange.

On the eve of the G20 summit, Mr Macron called for international involvement in the investigations into Khashoggi’s killing in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul last month.

EU leaders urged G20 participants to address concerns about journalist safety and the Saudi-backed war in Yemen.

US intelligence agencies have concluded the crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s killing, an accusation Saudi Arabia has staunchly denied.

In contrast to his meeting with Mr Macron, the Saudi crown prince shared a smiley, enthusiastic greeting with Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin.

Vladimir Putin and Mohammed Bin Salman shake hands at G20

The two men grinned widely and clasped hands in somewhat of a cross between a handshake and a high-five.

Prince Mohammed patted President Putin’s hand three times as the two leaders took their seats next to each other as the G20 summit opened in Argentina’s capital.

The two are controversial figures at the summit, having both come under international criticism.

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