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Macron welcomes Lebanon’s Hariri to Elysee Palace

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) gestures as he welcomes Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the Elysee Presidential Palace on November 18, 2017 in Paris. Hariri is in Paris at the invitation of France’s President who is attempting to help broker a solution to a political crisis that has raised fears over Lebanon’s fragile democracy. / AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND GUAY

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed Saad Hariri for talks Saturday, an AFP reporter said, hours after the Lebanese premier arrived from Saudi Arabia in the midst of a political crisis.

Hariri, who made a shock resignation announcement on November 4 and has since fended off claims he was being held in Saudi Arabia against his will, was also due to have lunch with Macron.

The Lebanese leader’s wife and elder son were to join them for the meal after the talks, but the couple’s two younger children remain in Riyadh “for their school exams”, a source close to Hariri said.

“Hariri does not want to mix his children up in this affair,” the source said.

Macron has been attempting to help broker a solution to a political crisis that has raised fears over Lebanon’s fragile democracy.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has refused to accept Hariri’s resignation while he remains abroad, and Macron said ahead of the talks that he would be welcomed “with the honours due to a prime minister”.

Aoun said on Saturday that he had spoken by telephone to the premier after his arrival in Paris, and that Hariri said he would be back in Lebanon for Independence Day celebrations on Wednesday.



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