Cannes (AsiaNews / Agencies) - In a completely unexpected move and well ahead of schedule, yesterday King Salman of Saudi Arabia left the French Riviera, where he had arrived about a week ago on holiday.
His visit had sparked heated debate and protests from local residents over the closure and navigation ban - for security reasons - along one kilometer of coastline near the villa where the monarchwas staying.
His departure was confirmed by local officials who announced the imminent reopening of the "La Mirandole" beach on Golfe-Juan.
Eight days after his arrival in Vallauris, southern France, home to the king’s luxurious villa, for what was to have originally been a three week vacation, the monarch departed from Nice airport to Tangier, Morocco.
At least 500 of the one thousand people who made up the delegation that accompanied the Saudi leader on his French holiday have also left. Previously the Saudi Embassy announced that the stay would last until 20 August.
In the next hours security measures in place around the villa of the monarch will begin to be "progressively loosened", with the consequent re-opening - scheduled for today – of the disputed beach.
Closing the "Mirandole" for reasons related to privacy and security of the king had sparked protests among local residents and tourists. At least 150 thousand people had signed a petition against the "privatization" of a stretch of public coastline.
At the moment there is no confirmation of the link between the local protests and the departure of the monarch. The fact remains that Riyadh has strong economic interests in France. Not least, the recent signing on 25 June, of a series of agreements worth 12 billion dollars in various areas of cooperation.
The agreements, said the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius include the purchase of 23 Airbus H145 helicopters, valued at 500 million dollars. The French minister added that the Saudi Arabia is about to launch a feasibility study for the construction of two nuclear reactors in the Kingdom in collaboration with France.