EU, France and Germany on Monday called for an end to external interference in Lebanon, after premier Saad Hariri resigned unexpectedly, triggering rumors he was being held against his will in Saudi Arabia.
EU’s diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said that a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday had voiced unanimous support for Lebanon’s “unity and stability”.
“We expect no external interference in this national agenda and we believe it is essential to avoid importing into Lebanon regional conflicts, regional dynamics, regional tensions that have to stay out of the country,” Mogherini said, adding that she would meet Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil in Brussels on Tuesday.
For his part, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said France was “worried by the situation in Lebanon” and wanted to see the government there “stabilize as quickly as possible”.
On Thursday he will visit the Saudi capital Riyadh.
“For there to be a political solution in Lebanon, it is necessary that all of the political leaders have total freedom of movement and that non-interference is a fundamental principle,” Le Drian said as he arrived for the EU foreign ministers’ gathering in Brussels.
Meanwhile the French presidency welcomed Hariri’s comment, during an interview earlier on Sunday, that he would soon be returning to Lebanon.
Paris sees “a certain easing” in the situation, the Elysee Palace said in a statement, while adding that it remains to be seen “what is really going to happen in the coming days”.
French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by phone on Sunday with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the two leaders agreed to take stock on Wednesday on the sidelines of the COP23 climate conference in Bonn.
On the other hand, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said there was a danger of Lebanon falling back into “political and sometimes military confrontations”.
“In order to prevent this we need especially the return of the current prime minister, reconciliation in the country and the prevention of influence from outside,” he said.
“Lebanon has earned the right to decide on its fate by itself and not become a pinball of Syria or Saudi Arabia or other national interests,” Gabriel said in Brussels.