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Le Pen in Beirut: Assad in Office Reassures France | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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French far right leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen smiles as she leaves the foreign ministry building after she met with Lebanese foreign minister Gibran Bassil, in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, Feb. 20, 2017.

Beirut – France’s far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said on Monday that there was “no viable and workable solution” to the Syrian civil war beyond choosing between Syrian Regime President Bashar al-Assad and ISIS.

Assad represented the “lesser evil,” Le Pen told Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, according to comments released by his office after talks in Beirut.

“There is no viable and plausible solution other than this binary choice, which is Bashar al-Assad on one hand and ISIS on the other hand,” she said.

“Assad is obviously a much more reassuring solution today for France than the ISIS,” she added.

A statement released by Hariri’s press office said that the premier told the French presidential candidate that “Muslims were the first victims of terrorism … that in fact has no religion,” adding that “moderate Muslims, who are the vast majority, are the first targets of extremist terrorism because they are in fact the first bulwark against extremism.”

Le Pen began on Monday an official visit to Beirut, where she also met with President Michel Aoun.

Talks with Aoun touched on the Syrian refugee crisis and the need to join forces to fight extremism, Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency reported.

The French presidential candidate called for cooperation among “vigilant” countries, adding: “Lebanon and France, due to their common history, should become the cornerstone in the struggle against this radicalism.”

Commenting on the Syrian refugee crisis, she said: “It is significant that this crisis cannot continue due to its grave repercussions that impact the economy, health systems and other aspects.”

She also hoped she would be able to receive Aoun in Paris on an official visit if she gets elected.

“It would be a great honor,” she said.

During the meeting, Aoun said he hoped that the future would bring the people of Lebanon and France closer.

Le Pen arrived in Beirut on Sunday night accompanied by MP Gilbert Collard, her chief of staff Nicolas Lesage and her political adviser Omar Harfouch.