Bassil Begins Europe Tour, Says Lebanon Won't Discuss Any File before PM Return
Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil has flown to Brussels on the first leg of a European tour that aims to rally support for Lebanon's stability following Prime Minister Saad Hariri's contentious resignation from Saudi Arabia.
“Lebanon is still addressing the problem with Saudi Arabia within the framework of brotherly bilateral ties and the tour is to urge the kingdom to realize that what's happening is unacceptable,” Bassil said after arriving in Brussels.
“Prime Minister Saad Hariri's resignation did not meet the legal requirements... and we will not discuss any issue until Hariri returns” from Saudi Arabia, Bassil added.
He warned that “threats of governmental and political vacuum and sanctions against Lebanon will not only affect the Lebanese but also two million refugees and displaced people, who will become a problem for Lebanon's neighbors and Europe.”
As for the Arab League's upcoming meeting in Cairo, Bassil said “Lebanese authorities will take a stance ahead of the meeting in light of (this week's) developments.” The meeting of the Arab foreign ministers will be held Sunday in Cairo.
Bassil later held talks in Brussels with EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini.
According to Lebanon's National News Agency, Mogherini stressed the European Union's support for Lebanon's sovereignty and territorial integrity, emphasizing that no foreign state should interfere in its domestic affairs.
Mogherini also underscored the need for the return of Hariri and his family to Lebanon in the coming days in order to fortify internal stability and national unity in Lebanon, NNA said.
A statement from Mogherini's office said "close contacts will continue also with prime minister Hariri, through the EU’s diplomatic channels: High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini expects him and his family to return to Lebanon in the coming days."
President Aoun has refused to accept Hariri's Nov. 4 resignation, which came abruptly and under mysterious circumstances from the Saudi capital, Riyadh, until Hariri returns to the country.
Lebanese officials have insisted the resignation was forced by Hariri's Saudi patrons and that he is being kept in the kingdom against his will. Hariri said Tuesday that he'll return to Lebanon within days.
Bassil will visit Paris after his talks in Brussels.
The visit aims to rally diplomatic support and explain Lebanon's predicament following Hariri's move.