Macron announces Saudi-French Initiative to solve Lebanon Crisis

Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman receives French President Emmanuel Macron in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, December 4, 2021. Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS

French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Saturday a Saudi-French initiative to solve a diplomatic row between several Gulf states and Lebanon, Saudi television channel Asharq TV said.

Macron, who was in Saudi Arabia for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as part of a Gulf tour, said Riyadh had committed to supporting reforms in Lebanon, helping it solve its crisis and preserving its sovereignty, Asharq reported.

In October, Riyadh expelled Lebanon’s envoy to the kingdom, recalled its ambassador to Beirut and banned Lebanese imports after former Lebanese information minister George Kordahi made critical remarks about Saudi Arabia’s role in the Yemen war.

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

Kordahi resigned on Friday ahead of Macron’s visit in an effort to ease the rift, saying he was acting in his country’s interest to help end the dispute.

Macron said he and bin Salman had called Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati to stress that Paris and Riyadh were committed to supporting Lebanon, the Asharq report said.

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

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