French Presidential Envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian has held meetings with Lebanese politicians during his fourth tour to the country despite not having any new initiative to resolve Lebanon’s political crisis.
He started his round of meetings on Wednesday with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, to whom he reiterated the position of the Quintet Committee on Lebanon, which calls on the Lebanese to unify their stance and accelerate the election of a president.
During his meeting with the Army commander, General Joseph Aoun, Le Drian praised the army for dealing with the challenges facing the country, stressing France’s support for the military institution.
Aoun, for his part, expressed appreciation to Paris’ continued assistance, pointing to the recent French delivery of medical supplies.
While the French envoy did not make any statement after his meeting with Speaker Nabih Berri, informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that he reiterated the importance of electing a president and ending the presidential vacuum, without mentioning any particular candidates.
However, Le Drian stressed the need for reaching a consensus, which the opposition saw as a renewed call to go for a third option, away from the current candidate of Hezbollah, the head of Al-Marada Movement, Suleiman Franjieh, and the opposition candidate, former minister Jihad Azour.
While the French official warned of the vacuum extending to the army leadership, especially at this stage, he renewed the possibility of working to hold a consultative meeting that would include the different Lebanese components.
The sources added that Le Drian emphasized that the continued failure to elect a president would negatively affect Lebanon, especially in light of the regional developments and the post-Gaza stage.
Following his talks with the French envoy, the head of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea, said: “Le Drian confirmed the presence of a serious danger to Lebanon and considered that the government must shoulder its responsibilities, implement Resolution 1701, withdraw the militias from the South, and go to a third option in the presidential file.”
The French official’s visit to Beirut comes hours after Mikati received a letter from French President Emmanuel Macron warning of the extension of the conflict to Lebanon, which he said would have dire consequences for the country and the people.
The French president added: “During our discussions, I emphasized to the Israeli Prime Minister the interest we have in your country and expressed my concerns about the risks of escalation and the extension of the conflict to Lebanon.”