French President Emmanuel Macron greeted Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with a long handshake on his arrival in Paris on Thursday evening. Previously, many human rights groups protested the meeting.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was invited to the Elysée Palace despite protests by human rights activists, was warmly welcomed by Emmanuel Macron on his first visit since the assassination of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi almost four years ago, as images from AFP TV showed.

Bin Salman and Macron shook hands for a long time – and then added their left hands. Macron escorted the crown prince over the red carpet up the stairs to the Elysée Palace. Neither of them spoke.

Human rights groups had previously protested against the meeting, which further rehabilitated bin Salman on the international stage. According to US intelligence, bin Salman personally approved of Khashoggi’s murder at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul.

US President Joe Biden recently visited Jeddah as part of his Middle East tour and met bin Salman there. The two heads of state greeted each other with a fist punch. During the election campaign, Biden declared that he wanted to treat Saudi Arabia like a pariah state.

The increased interest in Saudi Arabia is also a consequence of the Ukraine war and the associated explosion in energy prices. The West has so far tried in vain to persuade Saudi Arabia to increase oil production so that the price of oil falls and inflation is curbed.

Three Berliners are said to have denigrated the virologist Christian Drosten on a campsite in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Police and prosecutors are investigating. The allegations are substantiated, and the campsite operator also reacted.

Tarek Müller drove drunk on an e-scooter through Hamburg at night. The police stopped him. A fine of 1,500 euros followed. However, Müller did not want to pay this and lodged an objection. The result: now he has to shell out 80,000 euros.

The US economy shrank in the spring. After a decline in economic output at the beginning of the year, gross domestic product fell by 0.9 percent on an annualized basis in the second quarter, the Department of Commerce announced on Thursday. Experts had expected growth of 0.4 percent.