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French Foreign Minister Carries “General Advices” for Lebanese…with a Priority to Maintain Security | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Ayrault sits with Speaker Nabih Berri in Beirut Tuesday during his two-day visit to Lebanon. National News Agency

Beirut- The visit of French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to Lebanon brought nothing new at the presidential level except for offering “general advices” concerning the necessity of having a new president, whose election did not yet receive the international green light.

Despite asserting that a solution to Lebanon’s problems would not come from abroad, the French minister’s meetings with several Lebanese officials reaffirmed the attachment of the Lebanese presidential file to the Syrian crisis and the Iranian decision-making, sources close to the Ayrault meetings told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The sources said the French minister’s presence in Beirut was a “reconnaissance” visit during which Ayrault stressed on the necessity to maintain the security and protect the Taef Accord. The sources said: “It is clear there is a French assurance that Iran would not allow the election of a President before completing the Syrian file.” The source also said Tehran seeks to amend the Taef Accord in a way that serves its allies, the so-called Hezbollah.

In the same context, Lebanese officials’ extensive meetings last week that hoped to solve the presidential stalemate, were again unsuccessful, in light of the deadlock currently witnessed at the foreign level and which is spreading internally. Today, Parliament should meet again with no hopes to elect a new President.

A parliamentary source with the March 14 forces told Asharq Al-Awsat that Lebanon could face a threat if parliamentary elections are held before the presidential one, which could lead to a new regime and the dropping of the Taef Accord.

Lebanon’s Al-Markaziyah news agency quoted Arab diplomatic sources as saying: “There are no new attempts to complete the presidential elections in Lebanon because the priority of major states remains their war on terrorism in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, in addition to their internal files such as the upcoming presidential elections in the U.S.”

Sources do not expect any foreign efforts to solve the presidential file in the near future.
During his two-day visit, Ayrault said: ““A solution must be found and it is up to the Lebanese political parties to find a way to comprise.”

Speaking during a banquet hosted by the French Embassy after his arrival to Beirut Monday, Ayrault said Syria’s conflict “alone cannot justify the absence of a solution to the institutional crisis” in Lebanon. He said: “The solution will not come from abroad.”

On Tuesday, Ayrault met with Prime Minister Tamam Salam, Speaker Nabih Berri and Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai. After sitting with Salam, Ayrault said Lebanon has always and will always be a priority for France.

“Lebanese people are going through a difficult situation in light of security threats and tragic consequences of the war in Syria and Syrian refugees fleeing to neighboring countries. France provides, in cooperation with its international partners, efforts to find a solution to Lebanon,” Ayrault said after meeting with the Maronite Patriarch.

Ayrault also visited the Amel Foundation in Beirut Southern Suburbs, from where he reiterated France’ commitments to financially assist organizations working in Lebanon to help refugees.