Bas­sil to travel to Eu­rope to meet with se­nior EU lead­ers

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - LEBANON -

BEIRUT: For­eign Min­is­ter Ge­bran Bas­sil will travel to Eu­rope Tues­day to meet with se­nior Euro­pean lead­ers, as EU states and the bloc again voiced sup­port for Le­banon’s in­de­pen­dence and sta­bil­ity.

For­eign Min­istry sources told The Daily Star that although the visit re­mains ten­ta­tive, Bas­sil is sched­uled to meet with se­nior French and Rus­sian lead­ers later this week, as well as the EU’s diplo­matic chief Fed­er­ica Mogherini.

Mogherini called Mon­day for “no ex­ter­nal in­ter­fer­ence” in Le­banon, but re­fused to com­ment on whether or not she be­lieved there had al­ready been ex­ter­nal in­ter­fer­ence in the coun­try.

“We be­lieve it is es­sen­tial to avoid im­port­ing into Le­banon re­gional con­flicts, re­gion­als ten­sions that have to stay out of the coun­try,” she said in a news con­fer­ence.

Mogherini said that the bloc’s for­eign min­is­ters in a meet­ing in Brus­sels Mon­day had voiced unan­i­mous sup­port for Le­banon’s “unity and sta­bil­ity.”

Bas­sil’s meet­ings with Euro­pean lead­ers come ahead of an ex­tra­or­di­nary emer­gency Arab League meet­ing in Cairo.

Saudi Ara­bia called for the sum­mit Sun­day with the sup­port of Bahrain and the United Arab Emi­rates. The re­quest was ap­proved by the bloc’s cur­rent head, Dji­bouti.

The emer­gency meet­ing on Iran’s “vi­o­la­tions” in the re­gion will be only the 12th such emer­gency sum­mit since the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s found­ing in 1945. Ac­cord­ing to a mem­o­ran­dum shown to Egyp­tian State News the meet­ing, which will bring to­gether 21 Arab states, was re­quested by Saudi Ara­bia af­ter a mis­sile was fired at Riyadh on Nov. 4.

Saudi Ara­bia and the U.S. have blamed Ira­nian-backed Houthi rebels in Ye­men.

Fol­low­ing the mis­sile strike, Saudi Ara­bia ac­cused Iran of “di­rect mil­i­tary ag­gres­sion.” The memo also in­cluded claims by Riyadh of Ira­nian in­volve­ment in the “sab­o­tage” of an oil pipeline in Bahrain Fri­day.

Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Sig­mar Gabriel ex­pressed “fears that the coun­try [Le­banon] will be­come a pup­pet of Syria, Saudi Ara­bia or any other coun­try.”

In a state­ment Tues­day, French For­eign Min­is­ter Jean-Yves Le Drian echoed Mogherini’s sup­port for Le­banon’s sovereignty.

EU lead­ers have voiced sup­port for Le­banon’s ‘unity and sta­bil­ity’

“In or­der for there to be a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion in Le­banon, po­lit­i­cal of­fi­cials must cer­tainly have a to­tal free­dom of ac­tion and non-in­ter­ven­tion is the fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ple,” he said.

Le Drian will visit Riyadh Thurs­day, fol­low­ing French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron’s un­sched­uled trip there last week.

Macron also spoke by phone Sun­day with United Na­tions Sec­re­taryGen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res and the two of­fi­cials agreed to take stock of the sit­u­a­tion Wed­nes­day on the side­lines of the COP23 cli­mate con­fer­ence in Bonn.

A state­ment from Macron’s of­fice said there had been “a cer­tain eas­ing” in the sit­u­a­tion while adding that it re­mains to be seen “what is really go­ing to hap­pen in the com­ing days.” –

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