Presidency Talks Intensify ahead of Expected Berri-Aoun and Nasrallah-Franjieh Meetingsإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Speaker Nabih Berri and Free Patriotic Movement founder MP Michel Aoun will meet soon and another meeting is also expected between Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh, a media report said on Monday.
The latest drive in the talks over the presidential crisis “has reached its peak, ahead of an expected meeting between Berri and General Michel Aoun and another between Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and MP Suleiman Franjieh,” An Nahar newspaper reported.
It also quoted the privately-owned Central News Agency as saying that “Franjieh has recently met in Paris with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”
The Saudi side stressed, according to the agency, that “the kingdom does not have a candidate and that it does not also have a veto on any nominee.”
“It backs any agreement among the Lebanese but it also fears that Lebanon could further come under Iran's hegemony,” the agency added.
An Nahar newspaper also reported that FPM chief Jebran Bassil – Aoun's son-in-law – has met with ex-PM Saad Hariri's close aide Nader Hariri.
Ministerial sources have however noted that “the regional atmosphere is not currently befitting for such settlements, unless we start believing that Lebanon can elect its president without Saudi and Iranian influence.”
The reports come in the wake of a series of meetings that were held last week, the last of which was between Hariri and Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz in Jeddah on Saturday.
A suhur banquet has also gathered Hariri and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea at the Center House.
Geagea has also met with Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat in recent days.
Lebanon has been without a president since the term of Michel Suleiman ended in May 2014 and Hizbullah, the FPM and some of their allies have been boycotting the electoral sessions at parliament, stripping them of the needed quorum.
Hariri, who is close to Saudi Arabia, launched an initiative in late 2015 to nominate Franjieh for the presidency but his proposal was met with reservations from the country's main Christian parties as well as Hizbullah.
Hariri's move was followed by Geagea's endorsement of his long-time Christian foe Aoun for the presidency after a rapprochement deal was reached between their two parties.
The supporters of Aoun's presidential bid argue that he is more eligible than Franjieh to become president due to the size of his parliamentary bloc and his bigger influence in the Christian community.