With Hariri in Paris, Netanyahu, Macron discuss efforts to end Lebanon crisis

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on the phone with French President Emmanuel Macron, who updated him on French efforts to resolve the Lebanese political crisis.

During the conversation — which the Prime Minister’s Office said lasted half an hour and came at Macron’s request — the two men decided they would speak again in the coming days and meet in Paris next month.

“Netanyahu and Macron also spoke about the nuclear deal with Iran, Iran’s efforts to establish itself and Syria, and its [other] actions in the region,” the PMO said.

France has been instrumental in efforts to end a political crisis in Lebanon sparked by the sudden resignation of the country’s prime minister, Saad Hariri, on a visit to Saudi Arabia.

Macron has held a series of phone conversations with world leaders in the last two days about France’s bid to keep Lebanon from spiraling into another arena for a growing conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia and their respective allies.

Macron and Netanyahu also spoke about the Iranian nuclear deal and Iran’s efforts to establish a permanent military presence in Syria, as well as Tehran’s actions elsewhere in the region.

The leaders agreed to speak again in the coming days, and to meet in Paris in early December.

The call with Netanyahu came a day after Macron spoke with US President Donald Trump about the need to work with allies to counter Hezbollah and Iran.

The Lebanon crisis and Iran’s role in the area was also the topic of a special meeting of the Arab League in Cairo Sunday, called at Saudi Arabia’s urging.

Hariri said Saturday that he will return home in the coming days, from where he will declare a political stance for the first time since making the strange resignation announcement from Riyadh.

The announcement came as Hariri left for France after Macron invited the Lebanese leader to Paris to dispel fears that he was being held in Saudi Arabia against his will.

Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy terror organization, is part of Hariri’s government. The group has accused Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US of forcing Hariri to resign and engineering the crisis.

In his November 4 televised resignation announcement, Hariri had cited Iran and Hezbollah for meddling in Arab countries, particularly Saudi Arabia. He also said he was afraid for his life.

Israel later praised the Lebanese leader for his stance.

Hariri’s appearance in Paris — looking relaxed and posing with his wife and older son on the steps of the Elysee Palace with the French presidential couple in front of a large crowd of journalists — contrasted with his limited-access, carefully choreographed appearances from Saudi Arabia.

Hariri told Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Saturday that he will take part in Independence Day celebrations in Beirut on Wednesday, according to Macron’s office.

After his meeting with Macron, Hariri told reporters: “God willing, I will attend Independence Day in Lebanon and will declare my political stance from Lebanon and after meeting President Michel Aoun.”


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