Energy was the main topic on the agenda between French President Emmanuel Macron and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, during talks in Paris seen as a diplomatic rehabilitation of the de facto leader of the Saudi kingdom.
Aides to the French president had indicated ahead of the talks on Thursday that Macron would urge Saudi Arabia to increase its oil production to help bring down crude prices, reiterating a request made by United States President Joe Biden during a visit to Riyadh earlier this month.
A statement by the presidential office on Friday made no explicit reference to oil or gas, but said Macron had “underlined the importance of continuing the ongoing coordination with Saudi Arabia with regards to the diversification of energy supplies for European countries”.
With Russian oil and gas supplies either unavailable to European Union nations due to sanctions or being withheld by Moscow, European countries are desperately seeking alternative sources of fossil fuels.
Saudi Arabia is one of few countries worldwide with the capacity to increase its output.
The French statement said that Macron and MBS also discussed food security amid fears of famines caused by the loss of Ukrainian grain, and agreed to work “to ease the effects” of the war in Ukraine.
“The President and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia underlined the need to bring an end to this conflict and intensify their cooperation to ease the effects in Europe, the Middle East and the wider world,” Macron’s office said.
The two leaders also discussed the war in Yemen. The French president commended what he said were efforts by Saudi Arabia to “find a political, global and inclusive solution under the aegis of the United Nations and expressed his hope that the truce continues”, the statement said.