Jumblat slams last 5-nation group meeting, asks what KSA wants
Former Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat was not pleased by the result of the latest 5-nation group meeting on Lebanon in New York. "Some are playing with the Lebanese," Jumblat told L'Orient-Le Jour newspaper, a day after the meeting.
The group -- which comprises the U.S., France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt -- had convened Tuesday at the U.N. headquarters in New York but failed to issue a statement because of disagreements between its members.
"The quintet has become a quartet," Jumblat said, as he accused "some members" of the group of "sabotaging" and "marginalizing" French envoy to Lebanon Jean-Yves Le Drian's mission.
"It's a leap into the unknown," Jumblat charged, adding that the presidential crisis has returned to square one.
The former PSP leader called on Saudi Arabia to "explain what it wants." "Things have reached a blatant and unacceptable level," he said. "This would fuel the ridiculous theories of those who want vacuum."
Le Drian had visited Lebanon in September to resume his initiative to break the presidential deadlock, as he hoped that a dialogue proposed by Speaker Nabih Berri would pave the way for a solution. Berri's dialogue was rejected by opposition forces -- the Lebanese Forces, the Kataeb party, the Tajaddod bloc, and some Change MPs -- who have refused to take part in talks to agree on a president before proceeding with a vote, preferring to rely on the democratic process.
Divided over dialogue, the Lebanese pinned hopes on the five-nation group meeting but disagreements between the U.S. and France in the five-nation committee Tuesday marred the meeting, according to Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad.
Pro-Hezbollah al-Akhbar newspaper also reported a "U.S. objection to the French management of the Lebanese file," adding that Washington has demanded a specific timeframe for Le Drian’s mission.
It said that the French-Saudi rapprochement, that Le Drian and Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Walid Bukhari were keen to highlight, did not receive support from the Americans, who are clearly pushing for assigning the mission to Qatar.