The Latest: Tillerson confirms Lebanese PM to remain in post

AP News
Posted: Dec 08, 2017 8:40 AM
The Latest: Tillerson confirms Lebanese PM to remain in post

PARIS (AP) — The Latest on the meeting of world diplomats in Paris to rally support for Lebanon and its Prime Minister Saad Hariri (all times local):

3:40 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri affirmed in a meeting that he no longer plans to resign.

Tillerson is holding a news conference with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian following a meeting in Paris with Hariri. He says the U.S. and others want to work with Lebanon to move it forward on security and prepare for elections next year.

Tillerson says it's critical to ensure Hezbollah's disassociation from regional conflicts, including Yemen's civil war. He says the discussions with Hariri in Paris were "all positive when it comes to Lebanon's future."

Hariri announced his resignation last month from Saudi Arabia, but has since returned to Lebanon and rescinded it following an agreement with his Hezbollah rivals.


12:40 p.m.

Lebanon's prime minister is calling for more support from the international community to help his country weather the Syrian refugee crisis.

Saad Hariri spoke on Friday at an international meeting to show support for Lebanon and its economy after political turmoil prompted by his brief resignation last month.

Hariri said Lebanon "is paying a very big price on behalf of the entire world" when it comes to the refugee crisis, which he said has cost the Lebanese economy more than $20 billion since the Syrian conflict began six years ago.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, hosting the conference, said Brussels will host a conference to find ways to help Lebanon handle the refugees.

Le Drian and Hariri both also warned Lebanese political parties not to interfere in other regional conflicts.


11:25 a.m.

Lebanon's prime minister and world diplomats have started a private meeting in Paris to discuss the way forward amid a bizarre political crisis engulfing Lebanon.

After brief opening statements to the media on Friday, the dignitaries retreated to an ornate, gold-trimmed room for discussions. Prime Minister Saad Hariri shook hands with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as reporters were allowed in briefly for the start of the meeting.

Tillerson did not respond when a reporter asked about the message he's delivering to Lebanon.

The dignitaries are meeting at Quai d'Orsay, home to France's foreign ministry. The meeting shows global support for Hariri, who resigned under unusual circumstances and then rescinded his resignation.


11 a.m.

Lebanon's prime minister is asking world powers to support his country's sovereignty and independence, and work toward addressing the needs of its communities as they host a tide of refugees from the war in neighboring Syria.

Saad Hariri addressed French President Emmanuel Macron, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and other dignitaries gathered at a Paris summit on Friday in support of the tiny Mediterranean nation.

It's the first major gathering of key nations to discuss Lebanon's future since a crisis erupted following Hariri's shock resignation last month while in Saudi Arabia. Hariri later revoked his resignation but the affair sparked a renewed debate over foreign interference in Lebanon's domestic affairs.

Hariri says Lebanon has been able to weather its crisis thanks to its international partners and that the country's many parties affirmed their "commitment to dissociation from regional conflicts."

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Lebanon hosts 1 million refugees from Syria, according to the United Nations.


10:30 a.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron says the international community must "stay mobilized" for Lebanon's peaceful future.

Macron spoke at the start of a gathering of world diplomats on Friday in Paris focused on the Lebanon crisis. He say that support is the "best rampart against instability" and that the world must do more to support security, but also to provide humanitarian and economic support.

Macron says Lebanon is "fragile but essential."

The French president also said he wants to emphasize "in the strongest terms" that the region's problems won't be solved unilaterally or by imposition of might. He says the region can only return to balance if it upholds pluralism. He says Lebanon is a model for that.


7:30 a.m.

The United States says it will voice support for Lebanon's "sovereignty, stability and independence" during a gathering of world diplomats in Paris.

Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and others plan to attend Friday's meeting hosted by France. It's the first major gathering of key nations to discuss Lebanon's future since a crisis erupted following Hariri's resignation while in Saudi Arabia. Hariri has since rescinded his resignation.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert says Tillerson will affirm U.S. support for Lebanon's military. She says he will also encourage other nations to do more to constrain Hezbollah and argue that doing so will lead to a "stronger, more stable Lebanon."

Hariri tweeted after arriving in Paris that the meeting will be important for supporting Lebanon's economy.