Paris meeting: No decisions or recommendations

Press Highlights
2023-02-08 | 02:18
High views
Paris meeting: No decisions or recommendations
Paris meeting: No decisions or recommendations

The Paris five-party meeting failed to establish a "road map" for the Lebanese crisis.

Four hours of "intense" discussions proved that the participating countries, the United States, France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, differ more than they agree.
This prevented the release of a final statement that "could be replaced by a statement from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the upcoming hours," French diplomatic sources stated.

The same sources also mentioned that "they called from the beginning not to raise the bar of expectations," while Arab diplomatic sources suggested that the failure to issue the promised statement was "an obvious indication about the extent of the disagreements."

A senior Lebanese official who was in contact with the parties involved confirmed that the Americans and the French have realized how difficult it would be to impose a solution, so they agreed on one demand that will be repeated going forward: "To all Lebanese, choose a president for your country, form a new government, and implement the reforms that you know are necessary for the rest of the world to support you."

This official also stressed that this position "does not mean that the outside will not intervene, but it knows in advance that any new president in Lebanon cannot be against the US, France, or even Saudi Arabia."

However, the meeting's outcomes disappointed some in Lebanon with a "surprise" that disrupted the political equation by announcing the meeting a hard-line stance that provides an example for the President that does not apply to any of Hezbollah's allies and threatens sanctions.

Before the main meeting took place, bilateral meetings were held, during which confusion prevailed.

These meetings included:

- US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Barbara Leaf
- US Ambassador to Lebanon, Dorothy Shea
- Advisor at the Saudi Royal Court, Nizar Al-Aloula
- Assistant Qatari Foreign Minister for Regional Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi
- Advisor to the French President for North African and Middle East affairs, Patrick Dorrell
- Head of French Foreign Ministry's Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Section, Anne Gueguen
- French Ambassador to Lebanon, Anne Grillo
- Egyptian Ambassador to France, Alaa Youssef

In this situation, sources told Al-Akhbar that "the disparity in opinions was enormous," particularly between Paris and Riyadh, whose conditions sounded "extremely severe" and showed a lack of genuine interest in giving Lebanon a rescue.

Although this meeting was put on the back burner of interest due to the effects of the catastrophic earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, something needs to be highlighted.

A French official called for not raising the bar of expectations, and a Saudi official reiterated his country's lack of interest in the file.

In general, the meeting covered reforms, the presidential election, the cabinet formation, the process by which it will be formed, and its action plan, which must win the international community's confidence.

However, this remained within the generalization framework, as names were not mentioned.

And while the French stressed "the need to assist Lebanon, the Saudi delegation reminded of its country's position, as expressed in the New York tripartite statement and the Kuwaiti initiative."
According to the information obtained, "among the controversial issues was Saudi Arabia's insistence on referring to Hezbollah in the statement that will be issued from the meeting, and confirming the rejection of any presidential candidate affiliated with the party, while the French saw the need for more consultation."

On the other hand, diplomatic sources reported that the Egyptian stance was against any threat concerning the Lebanese file.
Moreover, it was noteworthy what Saudi officials said, stating that "the Lebanese file is not on the list of Saudi priorities, and that they joined because of the French insistence, but there is no clear vision for dealing with the Lebanese crisis at this time."

Additionally, some sources explained that one of the causes of the Saudi attitude is "the disagreement to France's attempts to involve the UAE in the meeting or to have a role in the Lebanese file and its annoyance with the Qatari and Egyptian attendance."
In short, the "Saudi stance" disrupted the French move, which reflected Paris's haste for a solution after conveying to Beirut "the Elysée's wish to elect a president in March at the latest, and that it will not impose a specific president except by agreement between the various forces."

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