Prime Minister Saad Hariri kicks off a three-day official visit to Paris on Tuesday in what is seen as the most significant step in international efforts aimed at stirring Lebanon away from its crisis.
“The French leadership will inform PM Hariri that it stands by him and his government,” French diplomatic sources told al-Mustaqbal newspaper.
It will also ask Hariri if he has any requests from France, the sources said.
Following Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Beirut last week and Hariri’s trip to Tehran over the weekend, his stop in Paris is aimed at receiving French support for Lebanese sovereignty.
French diplomatic sources told An Nahar daily that Hariri’s meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy over lunch will be an occasion to reiterate French commitment to Lebanon’s sovereignty, independence and state institutions.
During his stay in Paris, Hariri will also hold talks with his French counterpart Francois Fillon and Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie.
The sources said that Sarkozy met last week with Qatari Premier Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr al-Thani and held telephone conversations with Arab and international leaders involved in efforts aimed at averting a deteriorating situation in Lebanon.
Sarkozy will stress to Hariri the need to revive the national dialogue under President Michel Suleiman, An Nahar’s sources said, adding that Paris considers all-party talks the only guarantee for national unity.
“The French stance from the (Lebanese) crisis is clear. It is keen on protecting Lebanon and circumventing any settlement at the expense of justice” in ex-Premier Rafik Hariri’s assassination case, the sources said.
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