With Hariri in France, Trump and Macron discuss countering Iran, Hezbollah
Paris: US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke on Saturday about the need to work with allies to counter Hezbollah and Iran the White House said, as a political crisis in the region continued to simmer following the surprise resignation of Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri during a trip to Saudi Arabia.
The Lebanon crisis and Iran's role in the area was also expected to be discussed Sunday at a meeting of the Arab League in Cairo Sunday, at Saudi Arabia's urging.
Hariri said Saturday that he will return home in the coming days from where he will declare a political stance for the first time since making the strange resignation announcement from Riyadh that unleashed fears of a crisis in Lebanon.
That announcement came as Hariri left for France after Macron invited the Lebanese leader to Paris to dispel fears that he was being held in Saudi Arabia against his will.
Shortly after, the White House said that Macron and Trump had addressed Lebanon and Syria during their phone call.
"Both presidents agreed on the need to work with allies to counter Hizballah's and Iran's destabilizing activities in the region," a statement from the White House said.
Macron is seeking to calm tensions and avert a proxy conflict between Saudi-backed and Iranian-backed camps in Lebanon.
Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy group considered a terror organization by the US and Israel, is part of Hariri's government. The group has accused Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US of forcing Hariri to resign and engineering the crisis.
Hariri's appearance in Paris — looking relaxed and posing with his wife and older son on the steps of the Elysee Palace with the French presidential couple in front of a large crowd of journalists — contrasted with his limited-access, carefully choreographed appearances from
Hariri told Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Saturday that he will take part in Independence Day celebrations in Beirut on Wednesday, according to Macron's office.
After his meeting with Macron, Hariri told reporters: "God willing, I will attend Independence Day in Lebanon and will declare my political stance from Lebanon and after meeting President Michel Aoun."
"As you know I have resigned and we will talk about this matter in Lebanon," Hariri said after thanking Macron, who he added "expressed pure friendship toward me that I will never forget."