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Marine Le Pen Arrives in Lebanon, Will Meet Persecuted Christians

BEIRUT (AP) — The far-right French leader Marine Le Pen has arrived in Beirut to meet with the Lebanese head of state and leading Christian figures.

The National Front leader is hoping to burnish her credentials as a defender of Christians in the Middle East, ahead of France’s April 23 presidential elections.

Le Pen is a leading candidate in the polls. She is running on an anti-immigrant and anti-European Union platform that critics say is a cover for islamophobia and xenophobia.

Her arrival Sunday precedes two days of meetings with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil, Christian Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rai, and Christian Lebanese politician Samir Geagea.

Lebanon is a former French protectorate. Its Christians have long looked to France for security against the Middle East’s turmoil.

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