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Elysee: Hariri to Land in Paris Saturday, Meet with Macron

Elysee: Hariri to Land in Paris Saturday, Meet with Macron

Friday, 17 November, 2017 - 08:45
FILE - In this Sept. 1 2017 file photo, French President Emmanuel Macron, right, shakes hands with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri during a joint press conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris. (Ludovic Marin, Pool via AP, File)

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri will arrive in Paris on Saturday and will meet with President Emmanuel Macron, the Elysee Palace said.

French sources pointed out that Macron had “engaged” in the search for a solution to the crisis that emerged in the wake of Hariri’s resignation, through his direct contact with the highest authorities in Saudi Arabia, as he contacted King Salman bin Abdulaziz, “more than once” and met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in Riyadh, earlier this month.

In addition, the French president contacted Prince Mohammed on Thursday, and dispatched to Riyadh his Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who had a number of key meetings in the Saudi capital.

French sources say that Macron’s move was not only due to Paris’ desire to be active in the Lebanese file more than any other Western capital, but because the French president “wants Lebanon to avoid future crises and looming threats” in light of the situation in Syria, internal exchange of threats and escalating military rhetoric.

The goal is to “protect Lebanon and provide a safety net” that protects the Lebanese from external and internal tensions, according to the sources.

They added that the French presidency wanted to examine the reasons that led Hariri to resign and whether they could be solved, stressing in this regard that Paris wished that the premier would go back on his decision “in order to prevent power vacuum and imbalance within the Lebanese institutions.”

Le Drian met with Hariri in Riyadh on Thursday, according to an AFP reporter, who attended the first part of the meeting.

Asked by a journalist about the date of his departure to France, Hariri replied in French: “I prefer not to answer now”, adding: “I will announce it at the appropriate time.”

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