France wades in to Saudi-Iranian conflict over Lebanon
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 11/16/17, 11:21 am
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Thursday accepted an invitation from French President Emmanuel Macron to come to Paris for a respite from the ongoing regional tension created by his surprise resignation nearly two weeks ago. Macron said the Wednesday invite to Hariri and his family was for a few days and not an offer of political exile. Hariri caused shockwaves throughout the region Nov. 4 when he announced his resignation during a trip to Saudi Arabia, where he has remained ever since. Earlier on Wednesday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian met in Saudi Arabia with Hariri, the Saudi crown prince, and the Saudi king. “He will come to France and the prince has been informed,” Le Drian said during a joint news conference Thursday in Riyadh, the Saudi capital. Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Thursday welcomed Hariri’s decision to travel to France and said he hoped it “opened the door for a resolution” to the crisis. Hariri’s resignation highlighted the deepening power play between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which back rival Lebanese political factions. Hariri in his resignation speech raised concerns about Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah party meddling in regional disputes. Aoun accused Saudi Arabia of holding Hariri against his will and refused to accept his resignation until he returns to Lebanon.
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