World leaders meet with Lebanon's Hariri to discuss crisis

World leaders meet with Lebanon's Hariri to discuss crisis
World leaders, including the US secretary of state, are due to meet with Hariri to discuss ways to stabilise Lebanon after the prime minister withdrew his shock resignation.
2 min read
08 December, 2017
World leaders will meet in Paris on Friday with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to discuss the regional conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and look at ways to stabilise the region following the prime minister’s shock resignation last month, since rescinded.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who helped Hariri after the sudden resignation announcement made in Saudi Arabia, will kick off the talk. 

Representatives of all five permanent members of the UN Security Council, including the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will attend. Envoys from Germany, Italy and Egypt are also expected to attend.

"It's a sort of consecration, a re-legitimisation for Mr Hariri," said Hasni Abidi of the CERMAM research centre specialising in Arab affairs.

"The international community is validating a return to normal for Hariri," he said from CERMAM's Geneva headquarters.

The meeting aims to "support the political process (in Lebanon) at a crucial moment," said the French foreign ministry, adding, "it will send a message both to the various parties in Lebanon and to countries in the region."

Hariri, a dual Saudi citizen who has previously enjoyed Riyadh's backing, announced his sudden resignation in a televised address from the kingdom. 

Saudi Arabia is suspected of pressuring Hariri, a longtime ally, to resign.

Hariri said he feared for his life and accused Iran and its powerful Lebanese ally Hizballah of destabilising the country.

The shock announcement last month sparked fears that Lebanon was being caught up in rising tensions between regional arch rivals, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Hariri's failure to return from Saudi Arabia quickly at the time only added to the concerns, prompting claims he was being held hostage.

Macron intervened to try defuse the situation, inviting the Lebanese prime minister to Paris for talks.

Riyadh's power play paradoxically led divided Lebanese factions to come together in order to avoid a political breakdown.

Following consultations with the various political groups in Lebanon, Hariri announced Tuesday he was withdrawing his resignation.

The Lebanese cabinet issued a joint statement to reaffirm their commitment to staying out of regional conflicts and apparently put an end to the month-long Hariri saga.

After Friday's talks Hariri will give a joint press briefing with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Amina Mohammed, the UN deputy secretary general.