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1ST LEAD EU urges de-escalation, 'no external interference' in Lebanon By Weedah Hamzah and Emoke Bebiak, dpa

Europe
13.11.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Beirut/Brussels (dpa) - The European Union on Monday urged all Lebanese political actors to work together to de-escalate the current situation, stressing that there should be no ‘external interference‘ in the country‘s domestic affairs.

During a meeting in Brussels, EU foreign ministers expressed support for Lebanon‘s stability after the country was pushed into political turmoil by Prime Minister Saad Hariri‘s abrupt resignation, announced from Saudi Arabia, which sparked fears that Lebanon could became a proxy for a regional power struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

"The stability and progress inside the country are to be preserved and are the priority for us," Mogherini said.

"We expect no external interference... and we believe it is essential to avoid importing into Lebanon regional conflicts."

Mogherini said she and the EU foreign ministers "all see a risk" for foreign interference in the country, without mentioning any of the regional powers by name.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel was more outspoken in his warning about foreign influence in the country‘s affairs.

"Lebanon is in danger of falling back into major political and military disputes," Gabriel told reporters.

"Lebanon really deserves to determine its own fate and not just be a pawn in the national interests of Syria or Saudi Arabia or others. Ensuring this is our common task."

Meanwhile, Lebanese President Michel Aoun welcomed remarks made by Hariri that he will return to Lebanon.

"I am pleased that Prime Minister Hariri has announced he will return to Lebanon soon, and we will then discuss all the circumstances, issues and concerns that need to be addressed," Aoun tweeted.

Hariri appeared for the first time in a television interview on Sunday, one week after quitting his post as premier. He has been staying in Saudi Arabia where he announced his surprise resignation, sparking claims that he is being held there against his will.

In an interview with Lebanon‘s Future Television, the mouthpiece of his political party, Hariri denied the claims and promised to return to Lebanon "very soon."

Hariri hinted that he could go back on his resignation if the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah stops its alleged involvement in regional conflicts.

Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Bishara al-Rai was also due to arrive in Saudi Arabia later Monday to meet Saudi officials.

The patriarch, who heads Lebanon‘s Maronite Christians, is scheduled to hold talks with King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Hariri.

Hariri‘s resignation has provoked international fears that Lebanon could be sucked into a proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and its regional rival Iran.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are backing opposite sides in wars in Syria and Yemen. 

 

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