Paris, Asharq Al-Awsat—High-level French diplomatic sources informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Paris has never stopped working behind the scenes to help Lebanon resolve its escalating political crisis, putting forward the possibility of holding a political conference in Paris along the lines of the 2007 Saint-Cloud conference.
The comments come during a visit earlier this week by Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati to Paris. Mikati met with a number of senior French officials to discuss the domestic situation in Lebanon and the implications of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon’s domestic security. Lebanon is facing mounting political crisis with prime minister-designate Tammam Salam faltering in his more than eight-month efforts to form a viable government, while escalating sectarian violence is continuing to plague the country.
Following a meeting with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Lebanese state news agency announced that the two officials had discussed bilateral relations, the situation in the Middle East, and how to shield Lebanon from the repercussions of the war in Syria. The Lebanese state National News Agency quoted Mikati as calling on the international community “to help Lebanon cope with the burdens of the crisis of Syrian refugees on its territory.”
Fabius said France would help Lebanon maintain its stability, sovereignty and independence and protect it from the repercussions of the Syrian crisis.
High-level French diplomatic sources, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity, highlighted the importance of Lebanon’s political parties and factions working together to form a government before presidential elections scheduled for next year. The sources stressed the importance of avoiding a constitutional and institutional vacuum in the Lebanese state, adding that Paris has not ruled out the idea of holding a political meeting along the lines of the 2007 Saint-Cloud conference.
The Saint-Cloud conference had been organized by the then French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner to host rival Lebanese political factions.
The UN Security Council urged all parties in Lebanon to engage constructively in consultations over the formation of a new government in order to achieve this “as soon as possible.”
“Security Council members urged all parties in Lebanon to engage constructively to facilitate the formation of a government as soon as possible that respects Lebanon’s democratic and constitutional principles, responds effectively to the many security, humanitarian and development challenges facing Lebanon and fulfills Lebanon’s international obligations,” Ambassador Liu Jieyi of China—which holds the Security Council’s rotating presidency for November—said in a statement.