Macron announces Saudi-French initiative to resolve diplomatic crisis with Lebanon

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France and Saudi Arabia agreed on Saturday to do more to help the Lebanese population, work to resolve a diplomatic dispute between Beirut and the Gulf states and jointly press for the government to function.

Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi resigned on Friday to help end a diplomatic dispute with Saudi Arabia over comments he had made in October criticizing Saudi Arabia’s role in the Yemen war, which had led to Riyadh to ban Lebanese imports.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who was in Saudi Arabia to speak with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) as part of a Gulf tour, told reporters that Riyadh had pledged to re-commit financially shortly. term.

“So now we are going to work in a very concrete way to put this together between the two of us,” he said, without giving details.

The two leaders spoke with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati. Macron said he would call his Lebanese counterpart, Michel Aoun, upon his return to Paris.

Mikati said in a statement that the call had been an “important step” in re-establishing relations with the Gulf states.

Discussion franche et utile avec le prince héritier Mohammed ben Salmane sur nos priorés politiques: security and stability in the region with particular attention to Liban. Nous avons appelé le Premier ministre libanais et avons pris ensemble des engagement. pic.twitter.com/OlI1ibb2OV

– Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) December 4, 2021

Macron has led international efforts to resolve the political and economic crisis in Lebanon. But despite gambling much of his capital on the issue for more than a year, he has so far failed to pressure the country’s troubled politicians to carry out economic reforms that would unlock vital foreign aid.

In October, Riyadh expelled Lebanon’s envoy to the kingdom, called its ambassador in Beirut, and banned Lebanese imports following Kordahi’s remarks about Saudi Arabia’s role in the Yemen war.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain took similar action against Lebanon following the Saudi move.

Kordahi said when he resigned on Friday that he was acting in the interest of his country to help end the dispute.

Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran have long battled for influence in the region, including Lebanon, which is struggling with a deep economic crisis and desperately in need of financial support from regional and international donors.

(REUTERS)