RIYADH – French President François Hollande expressed his support for the Saudi-led Arab military intervention in Yemen and reiterated France’s commitment to stand by the Gulf Cooperation Council, or GCC, while he also said that he understood the fears around Iran’s divisive regional influence and nuclear program.
At the opening of the GCC summit in Riyadh, Hollande, the guest of honor, praised the “courageous initiatives” taken by the GCC, including its support for the Syrian opposition and its participation in the international coalition against Islamic State.
The president also stressed France’s support to the Saudi-led al-Hazm Storm military operation against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, while he agreed with Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz that the existing defense agreement between the two countries should be upgraded to the highest degree.
The “concerns” expressed by the Gulf countries regarding the alleged Iranian support to Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen are understandable, Hollande said, while he also referred to Iran’s nuclear program, which requires a “strong, sustainable and verifiable agreement,” set to be reached by June 30.
During Hollande’s fourth visit to Saudi Arabia since he took office, he met with the newly appointed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the ministers of Transport, Trade and Industry and Finance, in addition to officials from King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy.