Emmanuel Macron’s brokers are calling between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon

Emmanuel Macron’s brokers are calling between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon

On Saturday, Emmanuel Macron mediated a call between Saudi Arabia and the Lebanese leader in an attempt to end a diplomatic dispute that led to the imposition of sanctions on Beirut by the Gulf states.

The French president, the first Western leader to visit the kingdom since the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, sought an invitation during a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah during a tour aimed at underlining French impact in the region.

Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador and expelled the Lebanese envoy in October after Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi criticized the war of the Saudi-led coalition against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. It has also banned imports from Lebanon, which is suffering the worst economic crisis in decades. Other Gulf countries have followed suit.

Macron said that an important step had been made with Saudi Arabia, which is ready to re-engage financially with Lebanon after the first round of tripartite negotiations.

“We worked together in Lebanon and then we invited him [Lebanese] “Prime Minister Mikati together to convey a clear message from Saudi Arabia and France that we fully want to get involved,” Macron told reporters in Jeddah.

“We want to get involved so that we can help the people of Lebanon and do everything we can to bring about economic and commercial opening.”

Although prompted by Kordahi’s comments, the root of the dispute between the Gulf states is the influence of Iran-backed Hezbollah, despite billions of Saudi Arabia’s financial aid to Beirut in recent decades.

Kordahi said on Friday that he would resign at the request of France.

French officials have said Saudi Arabia has agreed to send its ambassador back to Beirut, but it is unclear that it will do so.

France’s proposal that Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati visit Jeddah for a trilateral meeting with Macron and Prince Mohammed has been rejected.

A joint Saudi-French statement said they had agreed on a “joint mechanism” for transparent humanitarian aid to Lebanon, as well as the need to limit weapons to legitimate state institutions, a covert mention of Hezbollah.

Western leaders avoided visiting Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi’s assassination by Saudi agents at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul. CIA he concluded that Prince Muhammad had to approve the operation. He denied any involvement in Riyadh, blaming a fake operation for the murder.

Macron rejected criticism at the expense of his visit. “Who really thinks for a moment that we can help Lebanon, that we can try to preserve the stability we are working on in the Middle East, if we say ‘we are not talking to Saudi Arabia anymore,'” he said in Dubai on Friday.

Macron said France, a former colonial power in Lebanon, had a role to play in the discussions. “That doesn’t mean we approve or forget,” he said. “That doesn’t mean we’re not demanding partners.”

A French official said Saudi Arabia’s agreement to re-engage with Lebanon was a quid pro quo for a high-profile visit by a Western leader.

A regional official said France had escalated pressure over the past few weeks. “Given the upcoming French elections, it is important for him to make progress in this dossier,” the official said.

Macron is accompanied by a business delegation. In Dubai, he announced a Sales of $ 19 billion Rafale fighter jets and helicopters.

In Jeddah, the state military industry of Saudi Arabia announced joint investments with the French companies Airbus and Figeac Aéro.

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