The Latest: France sees ‘negative’ foreign sways in Lebanon
PARIS (AP) — The Latest on developments surrounding Lebanon’s crisis with Saudi Arabia in the wake of Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s resignation (all times local):
The French presidency says it is essential to protect Lebanon from “negative” foreign influences because the country needs a “strong state.”
A high official in French President Emmanuel Macron’s office said Saturday that France aims to see Lebanon “regain its stability.”
The official didn’t name any specific foreign countries allegedly interfering in Lebanon’s internal affairs but said Lebanon should be protected from the “dangers that regional crises can pose to it.”
The official said France supports Lebanon’s policy of “decoupling” itself from regional crises.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with French presidential policy, was speaking after Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri met Macron at the French presidential palace and said he’ll return to Lebanon in the coming days.
The French presidency says France is not worried that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri left two of his children in Saudi Arabia before coming to France, adding that he will return to Lebanon in the coming days.
A high official in French President Emmanuel Macron’s office said Saturday “we have no reason to be concerned about this.”
“He left two of his children in Riyadh because dad and mom thought it best to leave two children in Riyadh,” the official said, answering questions about whether, as some have suggested, Saudi Arabia could use the children’s whereabouts to maintain pressure on Hariri.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with French presidential policy.
After a face-to-face meeting with Macron, Hariri was joined by his wife and their eldest son for a lunch at the Elysee, the French presidential palace.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri says he will return to Lebanon in the coming days to take part in Independence Day celebrations adding that he will make his political stance clear upon his arrival.
Hariri spoke to reporters in Paris Saturday after a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron during which he thanked France for the “positive political role” it is playing in the Middle East.
Hariri was joined for lunch at the Elysee Palace by his wife and older son along with Macron and his wife.
Hariri made a short statement in French and similar one in Arabic in which he said: “As you know I have resigned and we will speak about this matter there (Lebanon).”
Lebanese President Michel Aoun refused to accept the resignation that was made through a TV broadcast in Saudi Arabia, and accused the kingdom of holding Hariri against his will.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris after a tense stay in Saudi Arabia that unleashed fears of a new political crisis in Lebanon.
Hariri arrived Saturday in France on Macron’s invitation, and pulled up to the Elysee Palace courtyard in a convoy before being greeted by the French leader on the steps.
It’s Hariri’s first appearance outside Saudi Arabia since he made a strange resignation announcement Nov. 4 that some feared was Saudi-engineered. Hariri insisted that he was not a Saudi hostage.
Lebanese state-run National News Agency says Hariri told Lebanese President Michel Aoun that he would return for independence day ceremonies Wednesday. Macron has sought to mediate in the crisis. France has centuries old ties to Lebanon.
Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency is reporting that President Michel Aoun has received a telephone call from Prime Minister Saad Hariri after his arrival in Paris and Hariri informed him that he will take part in Independence Day celebrations in Beirut next week.
Lebanon will mark Independence Day on Wednesday and there have been concerns about whether Hariri will attend the annual celebrations. The ceremony is usually headed by the president, prime minister and parliament speaker.
It is the first official comment on when Hariri is likely to be back in Beirut since his Nov. 4 resignation through a broadcast on a Saudi-owned TV station from Saudi Arabia.
NNA quoted a presidential statement saying that Hariri informed the president that he arrived in Paris with his wife earlier Saturday.
The office of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri says he has arrived in Paris with his wife from Saudi Arabia without mentioning two of his children.
The statement says Hariri will meet French President Emmanuel Macron later and have lunch with him along with his wife, Lara, and older son Hussam.
The statement did not mention Hariri’s younger son, Abdul-Aziz, and daughter Loulwa.
Lebanese local media outlets say Hariri’s younger children are still in Saudi Arabia where they are attending school.
Hariri’s older son, Hussam, studies in Britain and arrived in Paris to meet his parents.
Hariri’s cousin and close aide, Nader Hariri, was seen walking into the Paris residence Saturday morning. Nader Hariri told the local LBC TV that he arrived alone in Paris without other family members from Lebanon.
Hariri’s resignation in a broadcast from Saudi Arabia Nov. 4 has thrown Lebanon into a serious political crisis. Lebanese President Michel Aoun refused to accept it, accusing the Saudis of holding him against his will.
Lebanese TV stations have shown Prime Minister Saad Hariri arriving in France from Saudi Arabia amid political turmoil.
The stations showed Hariri walking out of his car outside his Paris home and moving straight into the building without speaking to journalists.
The prime minister was accompanied by his wife Lara al-Azm on Saturday, but none of his three children appeared in the footage.
Hariri announced his resignation Nov. 4 in a broadcast from Saudi Arabia throwing Lebanon into a serious political crisis. Lebanese President Michel Aoun refused to accept it, accusing the Saudis of holding him against his will.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri says his stay in Saudi Arabia has been to consult with officials there on the future of Lebanon and its relations with its Arab neighbors.
He dismissed as “rumors” reports about his alleged detention in the kingdom.
Hariri’s tweet on Friday came hours before he was expected in France two weeks after his surprise resignation in Saudi Arabia.
The office of French President Emmanuel Macron said Hariri was expected in Paris’ presidential palace by midday Saturday. Macron said Hariri will be received “with the honors due a prime minister,” even though he has announced his resignation, since Lebanon hasn’t yet recognized it.