Macron announces Franco-Saudi initiative to resolve crisis with Lebanon – TV

CAIRO, December 4 (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday announced a Franco-Saudi initiative aimed at resolving a diplomatic dispute between several Gulf states and Lebanon, Saudi broadcaster Asharq TV reported.

Macron, who was in Saudi Arabia for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as part of a tour of the Gulf, said Riyadh is committed to supporting reforms in Lebanon, helping him resolve his crisis and preserve its sovereignty, Asharq reported.

In October, Riyadh expelled Lebanon’s envoy to the kingdom, recalled its ambassador to Beirut, and banned Lebanese imports after former Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi made critical remarks about Arabia’s role Arabia in the war in Yemen.

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain have taken similar action against Lebanon following the Saudi ruling.

Kordahi resigned Friday ahead of Macron’s visit in an attempt to bridge the gap, saying he was acting in his country’s best interests to help end the dispute.

Macron said he and Ben Salman called Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati to stress that Paris and Riyadh are committed to supporting Lebanon, according to the Asharq report.

Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran have long battled for influence in the region, including in Lebanon, which is grappling with a deep economic crisis and in desperate need of financial support from regional and international donors.

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Reporting by Yasmin Hussein Editing by David Clarke

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