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France, Germany call for 'non-interference' in Lebanon crisis

Saad Hariri sent shock waves through Lebanon when he unexpectedly quit as prime minister a week ago.

Published: 13th November 2017 09:40 PM  |   Last Updated: 13th November 2017 09:40 PM   |  A+A-

A poster of outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri hangs on a building with Arabic words that read, 'Prime Minister Saad Hariri is a Symbol of moderation,' in Beirut, Lebanon. | AP

By AFP

BRUSSELS: The French and German foreign ministers called Monday for "non-interference" in Lebanon, after the country's prime minister announced his surprise resignation in a televised statement from Saudi Arabia.

"For there to be a political solution in Lebanon, it is necessary that all of the political leaders have total freedom of movement and that non-interference is a fundamental principle," France's Jean-Yves Le Drian said as he arrived for a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

Saad Hariri sent shock waves through Lebanon when he unexpectedly quit as prime minister a week ago, but on Sunday rejected rumours he was under de facto house arrest in Riyadh, insisting he was "free" and would return home soon.

His resignation came as tensions rise between Riyadh and Tehran, which back opposing sides in power struggles from Lebanon and Syria to Yemen.

Le Drian said France was "worried by the situation in Lebanon" and wanted to see the government there "stabilise as quickly as possible".

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel there was a danger of Lebanon falling back into "political and sometimes military confrontations".

"In order to prevent this we need especially the return of the current prime minister, reconciliation in the country and the prevention of influence from outside," he said.

"Lebanon has earned the right to decide on its fate by itself and not become a pinball of Syria or Saudia Arabia or other national interests," Gabriel said in Brussels.

Other Western countries have moved to express their support for Hariri, with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling him a "strong partner".

Tillerson warned against "any party, within or outside Lebanon, using Lebanon as a venue for proxy conflicts or in any manner contributing to instability in that country".



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