Macron, Mohammed bin Salman shake hands in Paris

STORY: French opposition figures and human rights groups have criticized Macron's decision to invite to dinner at the Elysee Palace a man Western leaders believe ordered the murder in 2018 of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Macron, who last December became the first Western leader to visit Saudi Arabia since the Khashoggi affair, has dismissed criticism of his efforts to engage the crown prince by saying the kingdom was too important to be ignored.

Ahead of a working dinner with bin Salman on Thursday evening, Macron welcomed the Saudi leader with a long handshake in front of the red-carpeted stairs of the Elysee. They made no comments to the press.