Le Drian meets key Lebanese players in bid to reactivate presidential file


French special presidential envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian, who arrived Tuesday in Beirut, met Wednesday with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Army chief Gen. Joseph Aoun.

Le Drian is reportedly visiting the crisis-hit country in a bid to reactivate the presidential election file.

In an interview with France Info, Le Drian said he is returning to Lebanon at the request of French President Emmanuel Macron to urge the Lebanese officials to overcome their rivalries and to agree together in order to establish a constitutional system that works. "The sense of responsibility must return to the leaders in Lebanon," he added.

But Le Drian might also discuss with Lebanese officials the situation in south Lebanon, where cross-border exchanges between Hezbollah and Israel have killed 109 people in Lebanon, at least 77 of them Hezbollah fighters and 14 civilians.

During his meeting with Mikati, Le Drian said his visit aims at securing a Lebanese consensus regarding the current junctures and to renew the five-nation group' call on the Lebanese to unify their stances, to swifty elect a president and to show willingness to receive help in that regard, the National News Agency said.

Mikati, stressed for his part, the urgent need to stop the Israeli aggression against southern Lebanon and Gaza.

Le Drian will later meet with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi, former Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea and Marada leader Suleiman Franjieh.

Macron had warned in a letter to Mikati, published Tuesday by the Grand Serail, that the presidential vacancy weighs on the country's ability to overcome its crises and to prevent a security deterioration amid risks of escalation of the Hamas-Israel conflict to Lebanon.

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