Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has postponed a visit to France that would have seen him open an exhibition of Saudi's archaeological treasures at the Louvre museum and possibly attend the July 14 national day festivities.
A spokesman at the kingdom's embassy in Paris confirmed on Friday that the visit had been postponed and a new date had not yet been set. He declined to give further details.
The Saudi monarch had been scheduled to meet President Nicolas Sarkozy as the two countries look to develop their relationship ahead of France taking over the G20 chairmanship next year. Saudi Arabia is the only Arab member among the bloc of leading economic powers.
The world's largest oil exporter said on July 5 it was also preparing to sign an agreement on cooperation in civilian nuclear energy during the visit.
Both countries have been in talks for more than one year but have yet to disclose details about the cooperation.
The Saudi spokesman declined to give a reason why the trip had been postponed. The octogenarian has had a busy schedule in the last few weeks.
He attended the G20 summit in Toronto, Canada at the end of June, embarked on a state visit to Washington to hold talks with President Obama on the Middle East peace process and flew to a presidential retreat at the start of July in Morocco.
An article that appeared on the website of Le Figaro newspaper on June 30, caused a "furore" among Saudi offcials, French daily Le Monde reported on Friday, citing a source.
The king was quoted telling the defence minister that neither Iran nor Israel had a right to exist. It was subsequently denied on the official Saudi press agency.
"We have excellent relations with Saudi Arabia," French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero when asked on Friday if relations between the two countries had soured. "This is speculation that casts not the slightest shadow on our excellent relationship."
Valero said the visit had not been announced by either side, suggesting it was not a state visit.
Still, Saudi Arabia's cabinet has given the green light to sign a nuclear cooperation deal with France and at the start of July, French engineer Alstom was shortlisted for a 10 billion euro ($12.68 billion) contract to supply trains and equipment for a high-speed railway linking Saudi Arabia's holy cities to the Red Sea coast.
ReutersGüncelleme Tarihi: 09 Temmuz 2010, 18:18