France calls for 'non-interference' in Lebanon crisis

AFP , Monday 13 Nov 2017

Jean-Yves Le Drian
France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian attends a foreign affairs council at the European Council in Brussels on November 13, 2017 (Photo: AFP)

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called Monday for "non-interference" in Lebanon, after the country's prime minister announced his surprise resignation in a televised statement from Saudi Arabia.

"For there to be a political solution in Lebanon, it is necessary that all of the political leaders have total freedom of movement and that non-interference is a fundamental principle," Le Drian said as he arrived for a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

Saad Hariri sent shock waves through Lebanon when he unexpectedly quit as prime minister a week ago, but on Sunday rejected rumours he was under de facto house arrest in Riyadh, insisting he was "free" and would return home soon.

His resignation came as tensions rise between Riyadh and Tehran, which back opposing sides in power struggles from Lebanon and Syria to Yemen.

Le Drian said France was "worried by the situation in Lebanon" and wanted to see the government there "stabilise as quickly as possible".

Other Western countries have moved to express their support for Hariri, with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling him a "strong partner".

Tillerson warned against "any party, within or outside Lebanon, using Lebanon as a venue for proxy conflicts or in any manner contributing to instability in that country"

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