Lebanon News

Hariri, Kerry agree presidential void must end soon

US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) and former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri shake hands before a meeting at the US Chief of Mission Residence June 26, 2014 in Paris, France. AFP Photo / BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI

BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri Thursday held talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on the presidential deadlock and the steps needed to strengthen security forces in the country.

The two held an-hour long work breakfast in Paris, attended by a number of U.S. officials including the Assistant to the Chairman of the joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Admiral Kurt Tidd, Hariri’s office said.

Kerry and the Future Movement leader discussed the need to end the presidential void and exhaust all available efforts to elect a new president as soon as possible.

They also discussed steps needed for stability in Lebanon and the need to strengthen security and military forces within the country.

Talks also touched on the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon and the efforts needed by the international community to help the country cope with the influx.

Hariri's meeting with Kerry comes a few days after the former PM held talks with French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabuis in Paris.

According to AFP, Kerry and Hariri also discussed Wednesday’s suicide bomber who blew himself up at a Beirut hotel to escape arrest, the third explosion in the country in less than a week.

"It's all very sensitive that this not be symptomatic," a senior State Department official said after the Paris talks, adding "we don't want to go back to that."

"We strongly condemned the bombing and are hoping that the perpetrators are brought to justice," the U.S. official said.

There was obviously "concern for spillover from Syria and Iraq."

"That's yet another reason why we have been in a very material way supportive of assisting the Lebanese armed forces and internal security forces."

Three suicide bombers blew themselves up in Lebanon this week, raising concerns of a return to last year's series of deadly attacks, mostly linked to the crisis in Syria.





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