Row over Riviera beach closure during Saudi king's visit

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PARIS. KAZINFORM - A row has erupted over the closure of a public beach on the French Riviera to allow King Salman of Saudi Arabia to holiday in private.

Local officials in Vallauris have said they will restrict access to a stretch of beach to ensure the security of the king and his 400-strong entourage, BBC News reports. Public access to the sea will be prohibited intermittently for the duration of the king's stay. Beach users have complained about the arrangements. "Looking after their security is fine, but they should at least let us go for a swim," Mohamed, a disgruntled fishing enthusiast, told the AFP news agency. Locals were also angry when a project to build a lift between La Mirandole beach and the villa involved pouring a huge slab of cement directly on to the sand. The local authorities have allowed work on the lift to continue, but the Saudis have promised to dismantle it when they leave. Coastguards will also stop anyone coming within 300m (984ft) of the villa by sea. "This is not about privatising a beach, but to avoid endangering the king of a country at war," local official Philippe Castanet told Nice-Matin newspaper. "We would do the same if it was the [French] president visiting." Some 20 years ago, then Saudi King Fahd illegally closed a local coastal path, but was forced to reopen it following legal proceedings, Nice-Matin reports.

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