Saudi Arabia crown prince in Paris for talks on arms, Islamic State threat

PARIS (AFP) - Saudi Arabia's crown prince arrived in Paris Monday for talks with President Francois Hollande likely to touch on a Saudi-financed French package of arms for Lebanon and the wider jihadist threat in the region.

Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz, who is also deputy prime minister and defence minister, will meet Mr Hollande on Monday and will be treated to an official dinner at the Elysee presidential palace.

The two are likely to touch on a US$3-billion (S$3.75 billion) package of French military equipment and arms for Lebanon's army that Riyadh has agreed to finance, as Beirut faces the threat of jihadists on its border with Syria.

Prince Salman is also due to meet Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Wednesday for talks over the situation in Iraq and Syria, where Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists have seized swathes of territory and are terrorising Christians and other minorities.

On Thursday, Mr Hollande rejected any cooperation with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad whom he accused of being a "de-facto ally" of ISIS militants, after Mr Assad's regime said it was willing to work with the international community to tackle the jihadists.

And in comments carried on national TV on Saturday, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah warned the West would be the next target of the jihadists sweeping through Syria and Iraq, unless there is "rapid" action.

"If we ignore them, I am sure they will reach Europe in a month and America in another month," he said in remarks quoted on Saturday by Asharq al-Awsat daily and Saudi-backed Al-Arabiya television station.