Summits with the king: France in, Obama out

Interesting times.

Hollande and Salman yuk it up at the GCC consultative summit in Riyadh, May 2015. (Image via SUSRIS)
Hollande and Salman yuk it up at the GCC consultative summit in Riyadh, May 2015. (Image via SUSRIS)

Americans haven’t been getting a lot of news about the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) “consultative” summit that took place last week in Saudi Arabia.  But it presents a useful counterpoint to the news from this weekend that four of the six GCC heads of state will not be attending the upcoming summit hosted by Obama at Camp David.

The “consultative” summit is held at the deputy or cabinet level, and has not been opened to foreign dignitaries outside the GCC before.  But in a break with that tradition, the summit on 5 May was attended by France’s President Francois Hollande – not just a high-ranking dignitary, but the French Republic’s head of state.

Given that the Saudis were hosting the consultative summit, it’s no surprise that King Salman made an appearance and delivered a speech.  Nor is it surprising that Hollande, the other head of state present, was also invited to deliver a speech.

It may have been unprecedented that Hollande was at the summit in the first place, but that too is less than surprising in light of his concurrence with Saudi concerns about Iran.  Among the leaders of the EU-3, Hollande has taken the hardest line on what would constitute an acceptable deal with Iran.

In fact, after the 5 May summit concluded, Hollande and Salman issued a joint statement expressing common concerns and requirements for any such deal:

Continue reading →

%d bloggers like this: