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French FM to Urge Lebanese Officials not to Link Political Crisis to Syria War | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Paris- French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault is scheduled to visit Beirut next Monday to compel Lebanese officials into ending the country’s political crisis by electing a new president.

The minister, who is set to make a two-day official visit to Beirut, “does not carry new ideas,” foreign ministry sources said. However, he has the ability “to talk to everyone” inside Lebanon and abroad.

Paris believes that “complications” in Lebanon should not be a reason for an end to French diplomatic action towards the presidential crisis.

On the contrary, French authorities believe there is an urgent need to “mobilize their efforts” to end Lebanon’s deadlock.

Yet, they have admitted that France “does not have the magic wand” to resolve Lebanon’s political crisis.

French diplomatic sources said that Ayrault, who has lately discussed the Lebanese file with his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javad Zarif and Saudi Deputy Crown Mohammed bin Salman, in separate meetings held in Paris, has come out with the impression that the two sides do not object to a political settlement in Lebanon.

Ayrault is scheduled to meet in Beirut with his Lebanese counterpart, the speaker, the prime minister and other top officials, including the presidential contenders MPs Michel Aoun and Suleiman Franjieh.

The French sources said that Zarif has pointed out to a possible political solution in Lebanon. They quoted Ayrault as telling his Iranian counterpart that the country’s crisis should not await the end of the war in Syria.

Political parties in Lebanon should draw a separation line between the region’s crises and their country, the French Foreign Minister allegedly said.

Ayrault will stress during his meeting with the Lebanese officials that Paris “does not have a plan.” But it “is willing to meet with all sides in Lebanon and abroad to facilitate a solution.”

The minister will tell the officials that they are chiefly responsible for reaching an understanding aimed at ending their country’s more than two-year crisis.

So far, all attempts and mediation aimed at pushing the Lebanese into electing a president have failed.