France sees ‘negative’ foreign sways in Lebanon

PARIS (AP) — The Latest on developments surrounding Lebanon’s crisis with Saudi Arabia in the wake of Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s resignation (all times local):

8:50 p.m.

The French presidency says it is essential to protect Lebanon from “negative” foreign influences because the country needs a “strong state.”

A high official in French President Emmanuel Macron’s office said Saturday that France aims to see Lebanon “regain its stability.”

The official didn’t name any specific foreign countries allegedly interfering in Lebanon’s internal affairs but said Lebanon should be protected from the “dangers that regional crises can pose to it.”

The official said France supports Lebanon’s policy of “decoupling” itself from regional crises.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with French presidential policy, was speaking after Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri met Macron at the French presidential palace and said he’ll return to Lebanon in the coming days.

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7:20 p.m.

The French presidency says France is not worried that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri left two of his children in Saudi Arabia before coming to France, adding that he will return to Lebanon in the coming days.

A high official in French President Emmanuel Macron’s office said Saturday “we have no reason to be concerned about this.”

“He left two of his children in Riyadh because dad and mom thought it best to leave two children in Riyadh,” the official said, answering questions about whether, as some have suggested, Saudi Arabia could use the children’s whereabouts to maintain pressure on Hariri.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with French presidential policy.

After a face-to-face meeting with Macron, Hariri was joined by his wife and their eldest son for a lunch at the Elysee, the French presidential palace.

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3:15 p.m.

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri says he will return to Lebanon in the coming days to take part in Independence Day celebrations adding that he will make his political stance clear upon his arrival.

Hariri spoke to reporters in Paris Saturday after a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron during which he thanked France for the “positive political role” it is playing in the Middle East.

Hariri was joined for lunch at the Elysee Palace by his wife and older son along with Macron and his wife.

Hariri made a short statement in French and similar one in Arabic in which he said: “As you know I have resigned and we will speak about…

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