Emmanuel Macron negotiates the appeal between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon – .

Emmanuel Macron negotiates the appeal between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon – .

Emmanuel Macron on Saturday negotiated an appeal between Saudi Arabia and Lebanese leaders in an attempt to end a diplomatic dispute that led to the imposition of sanctions on Beirut by the Gulf states.

The French president, the first Western leader to visit the kingdom since the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, called for the call during a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah, during a tour intended to highlight the influence of France in the region.

Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador and expelled the Lebanese envoy in October after Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi criticized the Saudi-led coalition’s war against Houthi-backed Houthi rebels. Iran in Yemen. It also banned imports from Lebanon, which is going through its worst economic crisis in decades. Other Gulf countries followed suit by recalling their envoys from Beirut.

Macron said an important step has been taken with Saudi Arabia ready to re-engage financially with Lebanon after a first round of three-party talks.

“We worked together on Lebanon and then we called [Lebanese] Prime Minister Mikati together to deliver the clear message from Saudi Arabia and France that we want to fully engage, ”Macron told reporters in Jeddah.

“We want to get involved in order to help the Lebanese people and do everything so that an economic and commercial opening can occur. “

Although sparked by Kordahi’s comments, the root of the Gulf states dispute is the influence of Iran-backed Hezbollah, despite Saudi Arabian financial assistance to Beirut over the past decades.

Kordahi announced on Friday that he would resign following a French request.

French officials said Saudi Arabia had agreed to send its ambassador back to Beirut, but it was not clear they would do so

The French proposal to show Jeddah by Lebanese interim Prime Minister Najib Miqati for a trilateral meeting with Macron and Prince Mohammed was rejected.

A joint Franco-Saudi statement said they had agreed on a “joint mechanism” for transparent humanitarian aid in Lebanon, as well as the need to restrict weapons to legitimate state institutions, a veiled reference to Hezbollah.

Western leaders have avoided visits to Saudi Arabia since Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi agents at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul. The CIA concluded that Prince Mohammed must have authorized the operation. He denied any involvement with Riyadh, attributing the murder to a dishonest operation.

Macron brushed aside criticism of his visit. “Who really thinks for a second that we can help Lebanon, that we can try to preserve the stability that we are working towards in the Middle East, if we say ‘we are not talking to Saudi Arabia anymore’,” he said. he declares. said Friday in Dubai.

Macron said France, Lebanon’s former colonial power, had a role to play in the talks. “It doesn’t mean we approve or forget,” he said. “This does not mean that we are not demanding partners.

A French official said Saudi Arabia’s agreement to reconnect with Lebanon was a quid pro quo for a high-profile Western leader’s visit.

A regional official said France had stepped up the pressure in recent weeks. “With the next French elections, it is important for him to move this file forward,” said the official.

Macron is accompanied by a delegation of companies. In Dubai, he announced a $ 19 billion sale of Rafale fighter jets and helicopters.

In Jeddah, the Saudi state-owned Military Industries announced joint ventures with French companies Airbus and Figeac Aéro.


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