October 12, 2018 / 11:52 AM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-France raises pressure on Saudi over Khashoggi disappearance

(Adds details, background)

PARIS, Oct 12 (Reuters) - France demanded on Friday that Saudi Arabian authorities provide detailed and truthful answers over the fate of veteran Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared in Turkey over a week ago.

France, whose ambassador to Saudi met Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Thursday, has been hitherto guarded in its reaction. Paris and Riyadh enjoy close diplomatic ties and commercial relations spanning energy to finance and arms.

“The disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul ... has raised serious questions about his fate. France asks that the facts be clearly established and that all those who can contribute to the truth fully contribute to it,” Foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes Von der Muhll said in a statement.

“This is the message we passed to Saudi authorities. The charges brought against them require that they be transparent and provide a complete and detailed response.”

France has in recent years nurtured close links with the Sunni-ruled Gulf Arab states, notably Saudi Arabia, which valued Paris’ tough stance on Iran in nuclear negotiations and are closely aligned with regard to other Middle East conflicts.

Saudi is one of France’s biggest weapons purchasers, but Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s uncompromising effort to counter Iran’s growing influence in the region are sometimes perceived as reckless in Paris.

Diplomats talk of tough conversations in private between President Emmanuel Macron and Prince Mohammed. Macron has, though, been careful not antagonise the kingdom. (Reporting by John Irish; editing by Richard Lough)

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