WikiLeaks: Saudis 'less than pleased' with Sarkozy

Following official visit, Riyyadh tells US embassy it is dissatisfied with behavior of French delegation; "Sarkozy hasn't replaced Chirac."

December 2, 2010 17:50
1 minute read.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy at NATO summit

French President Nicolas Sarkozy 311 AP. (photo credit: AP)

In a new WikiLeaks release of a cable from the US Embassy in Riyyadh described Saudi discontent over French President Nicolas Sarkozy's visit to the kingdom in 2008.

Although the US cable described the Saudi complaints as minor, it said they were "significant to Saudi sensibilities." The negative comments made by the Saudis were mostly related to cultural norms and respect.

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The Saudis were reportedly upset with Sarkozy's plan to bring his then-fiance Carla Bruni (an unmarried woman), which would conflict with conservative Saudi values that restrict unmarried couples from traveling together unaccompanied. They also accused the French delegation of making logistical demands made ahead of the visit.

The Saudi contacts that spoke with the US embassy expressed their displeasure with the French president for avoiding tasting traditional Arab foods. Additionally, they were irked by Sarkozy sporting "a bored look" during a televised arrival sword ceremony.

The diplomatic cable, marked "secret," also noted that the Riyyadh were not satisfied with the "overtly commercial nature of the visit." According to the cable, Sarkozy presented a long list of sales from French firms that he wanted to push through, including price lists and discounts.

One especially significant note in the cable, that the Saudis felt that Sarkozy had not actually replaced former French president Jacques Chirac.

The cable expands that while the complaints were relatively minor, "the fact [that] our Saudi contacts mentioned them shows their discontent.

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