Ambassadors of 6 major countries sounded the alarm Friday over President Michel Aoun’s latest statements about Hezbollah’s arms, amid threats that the the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon or UNIFIL could withdraw its peacekeeping mission from south Lebanon. A meeting was held on February 15 at the United Nations headquarters in Yarze. It included ambassadors of the International Support Group for Lebanon, the US, France, Britain, Germany, Italy and China in addition to the EU ambassador and Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General in Lebanon and Arab League Representative. The meeting addressed three main issues: The upcoming parliamentary elections and the new electoral law, the security situation in Lebanon including backing the Lebanese Army, the International Brussels Conference on the Syrian crisis and the Syrian refugees in Lebanon.Talks highlighted the latest statement of Aoun during an official visit to Egypt, during which they said does not abide by resolution 1701, but merely reflects visions of a single Lebanese party. The US ambassador has however, revealed a tendency to pull the UNIFIL forces from southern Lebanon if the country does not abide by international conventions.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held talks Thursday with President Michel Aoun at the Baabda Palace at the beginning of a three-day visit to Lebanon. After a bilateral meeting between the two leaders, the members of the Palestinian and Lebanese delegations joined the talks. “We agreed to coordinate stances and cooperate in a manner that serves the interests of our two countries and the causes of justice and peace for which we have offered dear sacrifices”, Aoun said at a joint press conference after the talks. “I stressed the importance of President Abbas’ role in preserving the stability of the (Palestinian refugee) camps so that they don’t turn into hubs for those seeking to take advantage of the Palestinian people’s plights” Aoun added, referring to extremist groups. Abbas stressed that Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are only “guests”. The Palestinian leader vowed to exert all efforts possible to achieve “their certain return to their homeland Palestine”. Abbas also said the Palestinian factions are committed to preserving security in refugee camps around Lebanon and that they stand against terrorism in all its forms. By long-standing convention, the Lebanese army does not enter the twelve Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, leaving the Palestinian factions themselves to handle security.
France’s far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen refused Tuesday to go into a meeting with Lebanon’s grand mufti on Tuesday after his aides asked her to wear a headscarf. Le Pen, who is on a three-day visit to Lebanon this week and has met senior officials, was scheduled to meet with Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian, Lebanon’s top Sunni Muslim religious authority. Shortly after she arrived at his office Tuesday morning, one of his aides handed her out a white headscarf to put on. Following a discussion that lasted a few minutes, she refused and walked toward her car and left. Le Pen has tried to raise her international profile and press her pro-Christian stance with her visit to Lebanon, a former French protectorate. On Monday, she met with President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri, declaring that Syrian President Bashar Assad was “the most reassuring solution for France”. On Tuesday, after walking away from the meeting with Derian, she said that before it, she had told the cleric’s office that she was not planning to don a veil during the encounter and was not told not to come. “They didn’t cancel the meeting so I thought they would accept the fact that I wouldn’t wear one”, she said. “They tried to impose it upon me, make it a matter of fact. You can’t put me before a matter of fact”
Lebanese President Michel Aoun warned on Saturday that any Israeli attempt to violate Lebanon’s sovereignty would be met with the “appropriate response”, in a statement released by his office. It said Aoun was reacting to recent remarks in a letter at the United Nations by Israel’s U.N. ambassador Danny Danon, which amounted to a “masked attempt to threaten security and stability” in southern Lebanon, but did not say what the remarks were. Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said on Thursday that all of Lebanon would be a target if Hezbollah fired on Israel. Speaking in a meeting with visitors to the Baabda presidential palace, Aoun said on Saturday that Danon’s letter “constitutes a threat to Lebanon. The international community should be wary of Israel’s aggressive intentions against Lebanon”.
The Baabda Presidential Palace has completed arrangements for President Michel Aoun’s trip to Egypt and Jordan next week, his second Arab trip after his election as president. On Monday, Aoun will first meet in Cairo with his Egyptian counterpart Abdul Fattah al-Sisi and Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab. He will later head to the Arab League headquarters for talks with its Secretary-General Ahmed AboulGheit. For their part, Lebanese ministers will hold meetings with their Egyptian counterparts. On Tuesday, Aoun will head to Jordan for talks with Jordanian King Abdullah II. The Lebanese-Jordanian summit will address the Syrian and Iraqi refugees crisis and study the ways to alleviate their impact on the economies of both countries.