French President Emmanuel Macron paid an unexpected visit to Saudi Arabia amid escalating crisis between the kingdom and Lebanon.
The president’s trip comes days after Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri resigned while in Riyadh, saying he feared for his life.
Meanwhile, enemies of Saudi Arabia and Iran accuse each other of inciting instability in Lebanon and the region.
Emanuel Macron and Saudi officials also discussed the crisis in Yemen, where Riyadh is waging war against the rebels.
France has historical ties to Lebanon since the former colonial state before it gained independence during World War II.
President Macron was in the UAE on November 9 to open the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, a branch of the famous Paris Art Museum.
Ahead of his two-hour visit to Riyadh, Emanuel Macron said all Lebanese officials should live freely, “which means a very demanding stance towards those who can threaten any leader.”
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Details of the alleged plot against Saad al-Hariri have not been released.
Uncertainty surrounds the circumstances of Saad al-Hariri amid rumors of his detention in Riyadh.
President Macron said on November 9 that he had informal contacts with Saad al-Hariri without giving details, while the French foreign minister said France believed Saad al-Hariri could move freely.
On November 5, Saad al-Hariri said in a telecast that he was resigning because of an unidentified threat to his life.
In a video statement, Saad al-Hariri also attacked Hezbollah, which has political and military power in Lebanon, and Iran.
There are fears that Lebanon may be embroiled in a broader regional confrontation between the Shiite-dominated major Sunni state of Saudi Arabia and Iran.
President Macron favorably supports the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, which has been heavily criticized by both the Saudis and the Trump administration.
Before going to Saudi Arabia, Emanuel Macron said he had heard from Saudi Arabia “very harsh opinions” about Iran that did not correspond to his own point of view.
“It’s important to talk to everyone,” added the president.
However, an official statement from his office following the visit did not say that Iran was among the issues discussed, The world reported.
Tensions between Saudi Arabia, Iran and Lebanon have risen since Saad al-Hariri announced his resignation.
On November 9, Saudi Arabia and its allies in the Persian Gulf told their citizens in Lebanon to leave the country immediately. The move came after Saudi Arabia accused Iran of “direct military aggression”, saying it had delivered a missile that Hezbollah said it fired from Yemen to Riyadh on November 5.
Iran has dismissed Saudi Arabia’s claims as “false and dangerous.”