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Macron calls Trump, other leaders after meeting Lebanon's Hariri
French President Emmanuel Macron spoke to his US counterpart Donald Trump and other world leaders about the situation in the Middle East after meeting Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the Elysée palace on Saturday. After Iran reacted angrily to Macron dubbing its policy in the region "aggressive", the Elysée insisted there had been no break in contact between Paris and Tehran.
Macron discussed "ways to stabilise the region and establish peace" in phone calls to Trump, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, a presidential statement said Saturday.
The White House announced that Trump and Macron "agreed on the need to work with allies to counter Hezbullah’s and Iran’s destabilising activities in the region”.
Hariri, a joint Saudi-Lebanese national who slammed Iran and Hezbullah when he announced his resignation in Riyadh on 4 November, did not confirm his resignation in his meeting with Macron, the Elysée said, adding that this was not "anomalous", given that he said he would be returning to Lebanon in the next few days.
Nor was there cause for concern that two of Hariri's children remained in Saudi Arabia, according to the French presidency. "They left them there because they felt it was desirable," the statement said.
Dialogue with Iran
Iranian officials twice this week slammed Macron for criticising the country's "aggressive" policy in the region and its "uncontrolled" ballistic programme, in termes reminiscent of Saudi, Israeli and US statements.
The Elysée statement insisted that "We speak freely to Iran" and that there had been "no interruption" in contacts with the country, with which a "firm and demanding dialogue" must be had.
Macron has announced that he intends to visit Iran next year.
France hopes to organise a meeting in Paris of the international Lebanon support group, which is made up of the members of the UN Security Council - the US, France, the UK, China and Russia - the European Union, Italy, Germany and the Arab League.
The presidency is also "closely following" the case of 250 French nationals who say they are owned nearly 20 million euros in back pay and benefits by Saudi Oger, a construction company of which Hariri is the majority shareholder.
The Saudis have promised to pay the money owing, the statement said.