In tense talks with Bassil, Le Drian says Gen. Aoun guarantee for 'Europe security'
French Special Presidential Envoy for Lebanon Jean-Yves Le Drian walked out angrily of a 10-minute meeting with Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil on Thursday after “heated” discussions, media reports said.
“The French envoy was swift in moving from the discussion of the presidential file, which is supposed to be the core of his mission, to the issue of extending the term of General (Joseph) Aoun, asking Bassil about his stance on extension and telling him that he is the only figure who opposes the matter,” al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Friday.
“Le Drian stressed that vacuum in the army command would harm Lebanon’s security and the security of France and Europe,” the daily said.
Bassil for his part voiced surprise over “France’s interference in the appointment of an army chief in Lebanon, asking the French guest about the logic behind his call for violating the law and the constitution,” the newspaper added.
“You are saying that you want us to carry out reforms and establish a state of law,” Bassil reportedly exclaimed, emphasizing that “the FPM’s stance on extension for Aoun has nothing to do with the army chief as a person.”
“This was our stance on the extension of MPs’ term in 2009 and on the extension of the term of former General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim. We might have had another stance if there were not legal exits, but amid the presence of these exits, no one will force us to change our stance, even if we remain alone,” Bassil added.
“If we are truly alone, go and extend his term and do not wait for us!” Bassil went on to say.
Informed sources meanwhile told the newspaper that Le Drian’s stance represents the stance of the five-nation group for Lebanon and not only Paris.