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THE INTERVIEW

France's Macron calls disappearance of Saudi journalist 'very serious'

In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24 and RFI, French President Emmanuel Macron called for "the whole truth" on the the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, describing the situation as "very serious". Macron also welcomed the controversial appointment of Rwanda's foreign minister as the new head of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (group representing countries where French is the lingua franca or influenced by French values).

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French President Emmanuel Macron granted an exclusive interview to FRANCE 24’s Marc Perelman and RFI’s Christophe Boisbouvier on the sidelines of the Francophonie Summit in the Armenian capital Yerevan. The French president began by welcoming the appointment of Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo as the new head of the group of French-speaking nations. Despite Mushikiwabo’s appointment causing annoyance in many quarters, Macron insisted that “Rwanda is making a political transition”.

Macron also spoke for the first time on the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who has not been seen since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul 10 days ago. The situation surrounding the whereabouts of the journalist has escalated into a major crisis, with the international community pilling presure on Riyadh. Calling Khashoggi’s disappearance "very serious", Macron demanded "the whole truth and clarity". The French leader added that he would discuss the issue with the Saudi and Turkish leaders "in the coming days".

Pressed on France's trade ties with Saudi Arabia, Macron rejected the idea that Paris is beholden to Riyadh. “Politics prevails over business interests,” the French leader said, insisting "it is incorrect to state that Saudi Arabia is important economically to France in any area". Macron went on to say that France, “is not one of the [Edit: weapon] suppliers to Saudi Arabia in the conflict in Yemen”.

Macron also spoke out on the recently foiled bomb plot at an Iranian opposition rally in France, which Paris has blamed on Iran’s intelligence services. Asked if he still held these views, the French president insisted he has “never been naïve”. However, Macron insisted, “it is not sensible to leave the [2015] nuclear agreement and there is a risk of the region flaring up”.

Finally, the French president refused to give a precise date for a delayed cabinet reshuffle, saying he wanted to do things “methodically, at the right pace”.

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