French President Macron tweets pictures in Paris with Mohammed bin Salman

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud

Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammed bin Salman arrives in France as part of his global tour aimed at reshaping his kingdom's austere image overseas.

A private letter sent to Macron from 12 global non-governmental organisations urged him to pressure MBS to ease a blockade on Yemeni ports and suspend French arms sales.

Paris: Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in France on Sunday on the fourth leg of his worldwide tour for a stop that will focus on building relations over culture and tourism.

Prince Mohammed's decision to skip a visit to Station F, Europe's largest startup incubator founded by billionaire Xavier Neil, is likely to disappoint Macron, especially after the crown prince met with technology titans in Silicon Valley last week.

The 32-year-old prince was received at the Bourget airport near Paris on Sunday morning by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Saudi and French aides stressed before the trip that cultural ties, as well as new business opportunities, would be at the heart of two days of talks between government and private-sector figures from both countries.

"This is not a traditional state visit", another source close to the Saudi delegation told AFP.

In recent years, France had nurtured new links with the Sunni-ruled Gulf Arab states due to its tough stance on Iran in nuclear negotiations, and the broad similarity of their policies on conflicts across the Middle East.

More than a dozen memorandums of understanding in tourism, energy and transportation are set to be signed between French and Saudi organisations, another source close to the delegation told AFP.

On the third day of the prince's trip, military equipment-maker BAE Systems says Britain has signed a multi-billion-pound preliminary order from Saudi Arabia for 48 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets.

He has already announced the lifting of a ban on women driving, the re-opening of cinemas for the first time in over three decades and new mixed-gender concerts despite opposition from religious hardliners.

They will also formally agree on Tuesday to cooperate on a massive tourism project that showcases Saudi history, part of the prince's efforts to wean the country off a dependency on oil exports, open up its society and push social reform.

Macron invited Hariri to Paris for talks and he has since rescinded his resignation.

Three out of four French people believe it is "unacceptable" to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, according to a poll last month by independent research group YouGov.

The crown prince has emphasised closer ties with US President Donald Trump just as Mr. Macron has sought to improve relations with Iran, Saudi Arabia's arch-nemesis.

The Yemen conflict, into which the Saudi-led coalition intervened three years ago to fight Iran-backed Huthi rebels, has left almost 10,000 people dead and the country on the brink of starvation.

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