France’s Hollande starts Mideast tour in Lebanon

French President Francois Hollande in Beirut on April 16, 2016, the first stop on his four-day tour of the Middle East which will also include visits to Egypt and Jordan
AFP

Beirut (AFP) – French President Francois Hollande arrived in Lebanon on Saturday at the start of a four-day tour of the Middle East, an AFP journalist said.

Hollande was to spend the first two days in Lebanon and then travel on to Egypt and Jordan.

In Beirut on Saturday, Hollande was expected to meet with Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Tammam Salam.

On Sunday, the French leader will travel to an informal Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa Valley to speak to families who will be resettled in France. 

Lebanon hosts more than one million Syrian nationals who have fled the brutal war raging in their country since 2011.

The Syrian conflict has deepened the divide between Lebanon’s own political factions, paralysing government institutions.

Parliament has extended its own mandate twice, and Lebanon has been left without a president since May 2014.

Hollande is also expected to underline France’s support for the Lebanese army, after Saudi Arabia suspended a grant to finance $3 billion worth of French weaponry for Lebanon earlier this year.

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