France explores dialogue options for Lebanon's crisis, considers including Iran

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2023-07-03 | 22:52
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France explores dialogue options for Lebanon's crisis, considers including Iran
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France explores dialogue options for Lebanon's crisis, considers including Iran

Paris conducted an assessment of the results of the French Presidential Envoy, Jean-Yves Le Drian's visit to Beirut last month and decided to launch a "workshop" on two fronts, the first towards the capitals concerned with the file, and the second towards the leading forces in Lebanon, sources told Al-Akhbar. 

This article was originally published in and translated from the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar.   

According to the sources, the French are about to start talks with Riyadh, during which they will present the idea of including Iran in the contacts about Lebanon.  

Le Drian, who will soon visit Riyadh, is considering a tour that includes Qatar, Egypt, and perhaps the United States, in addition to contacts he will make with Tehran. 

The sources indicate that France is acting on the basis that the presidential crisis now requires a "creative solution" due to the high ceilings of the various parties.  

It indicated that Le Drian himself assumed that there would be difficulties. 

Still, he was surprised that the difficulties were more significant than he expected and that the problem lies in the fact that there are forces that refuse to dialogue with the other side and insist on a broad presidential confrontation, as he arrived in Beirut on the impact of the results of the June 14 session, it was assumed that the results of the session might open the door to a discussion of a different kind. 
 
However, he left for Paris, convinced that the two parties were in a negative tie and that the discussion should deal directly with the work programs and not be limited to the president's name. 

Concerned sources say the French envoy initially felt the dialogue represented a critical point. Still, he was shocked by Speaker Nabih Berri's position, who said he tried his luck by calling for discussion. 

There was no response, and after announcing his support for candidate Sleiman Frangieh, he became included and could no longer manage the dialogue.  

Once again, Le Drian was shocked when the Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bechara Boutros al-Rahi informed him that he had failed to organize a direct dialogue between the Christian parties, so how could he manage a national dialogue? 

Based on this, Le Drian considered it better to conduct the dialogue under the auspices of France or the five-party committee. Before his travel, he asked many key parties about their position on the dialogue. 

He obtained answers that would enable him to prepare a draft agenda that he would send to the main parties concerned to discuss with them on his second visit, which is expected this month. 

The sources said that Le Drian would invite Lebanese officials, during his second visit, to an inclusive dialogue, without prior deciding its location or date, noting that some talked about the possibility of Paris hosting it if it couldn't take place in Lebanon. 

The sources indicated that Le Drian discussed with the Hezbollah delegation the point related to the dialogue for a long time and that the party was not supportive of the idea of an expanded dialogue on the regime, considering that it is better to limit it to the presidential crisis and the files related to it, and stressing the need to agree on the agenda of the dialogue before launching it. 

The discussion also touched on the level of representation of the powers and a French endeavor to raise it to the first row so that the dialogue would not be fruitless if it took place at the level of delegates forced in every issue to return to their references in Beirut. 

On the other hand, the French studied the idea of including Iran in the five-party committee, including France, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Qatar.  

The sources said that Le Drian would raise the matter to the representatives of the five-party committee's member states and Tehran and that the final decision would depend on the results of the French contacts with the parties to the committee.  

However, the sources pointed out the need to monitor the internal situation in France, as the developments may affect the agenda of the French presidency, which may push the Lebanese file to a lower level.
 

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Lebanon

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Jean-Yves Le Drian

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