Emmanuel Macron makes emergency Saudi Arabia trip over Lebanon war fears

Posted on Nov 10 2017 - 5:46am by admin

The French President arranged a previously unscheduled meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman today as tensions with Lebanon and Yemen reach boiling point.

Mr Macron said he was keen to discuss the ongoing situation and work with the kingdom to try to stabilise the region.

He said: “It was decided to go on this visit to Riyadh to see the Crown Prince.

“First, it is in order to have a first meeting with him, but also to discuss regional questions, in particular Yemen and Lebanon.”

The announcement came after Saudi Arabia urged its citizens to leave Lebanon “as soon as possible” today.

Saudi state run news agency carried a statement from a foreign ministry source saying: “Due to the situation in the Republic of Lebanon, the kingdom asks its nationals visiting or living in Lebanon to leave as soon as possible, and advises its citizens not to travel there.”

Relations between the nations have soured after Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri, a Saudi ally, quit claiming there was an assassination plot against him.

Earlier this week, the kingdom accused Lebanon of declaring war following acts against it by Hezbollah.

Hariri’s resignation, read out on television from Saudi Arabia, came as a shock even to his aides and embroils Lebanon further in a regional contest between Riyadh and Tehran.

His exit fuelled wide speculation that the Sunni Muslim politician was coerced into stepping down by Saudi Arabia as it seeks to hit back against Iran and its Lebanese Shi’ite ally Hezbollah.

In his resignation speech, Hariri denounced Iran and Hezbollah for sowing strife in Arab states and said he feared assassination. 

His father, a veteran former prime minister, was killed by a bomb in 2005.

Saudi Arabia has denied reports he is under house arrest.

The French president ruled out discussing the recent corruption crackdown which has seen members of the Saudi elite arrested and bank accounts frozen.

He told a press conference: “I will also emphasise the importance of Lebanese stability and integrity.”

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