PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron will dine with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri on Tuesday, a diplomatic move aimed at showing the young leader can play a mediator role in the region.
Lebanon was plunged into crisis last November when Hariri resigned as prime minister while he was in Saudi Arabia, saying he feared assassination and criticising the Saudis’ regional arch-rival Iran along with its Lebanese ally Hezbollah.
At the time Lebanese officials had accused the Saudis of holding Hariri hostage and after international efforts in part by Macron, Hariri was able to leave the kingdom and eventually rescinded his resignation.
On April 6, Lebanon won aid pledges exceeding $11 billion at a Paris conference aimed at rallying international support for an investment programme to boost its economy. Saudi Arabia pledged a $1 billion credit line.
Standing alongside Prince Mohammed at a press conference, Macron said the dinner later Tuesday aimed to reinforce efforts to stabilise Lebanon.
Perhaps in an effort to show that Hariri and Prince Mohammed have patched up their differences, the Lebanese leader on Tuesday morning tweeted a photo of himself, Prince Mohammed and Morocco’s King Mohammed VI all smiling after a dinner in a Parisian restaurant.
“No comment,” Hariri wrote.
(Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Leigh Thomas)