BEIRUT: French President Francois Hollande Friday telephoned presidential hopeful MP Sleiman Frangieh, a statement posted to the website of Frangieh's Marada Movement said.
The statement said the two discussed regional and international developments in a 15-minute conversation, which came one day after Future Movement leader Saad Hariri met with Hollande at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
Speculation that Frangieh was being sought for the presidency spread after news emerged of his reported meeting with Hariri in Paris last month.
Since then, Frangieh, a staunch ally and childhood friend of Syrian President Bashar Assad, has emerged as a serious contender for the presidency, gaining the apparent support of some key, and unlikely actors, including Saudi Arabia.
However, Frangieh’s potential candidacy is facing obstacles by local Christian parties, including the Lebanese Forces, the Free Patriotic Movement, and the Kataeb Party.
FPM founder Michel Aoun, who is Frangieh's political ally, is the March 8 presidential candidate, and LF chief Samir Geagea is supported by the March 14 coalition.
But under a deal that the Future Movement, a March 14 party, is rumored to be seeking, Frangieh would be endorsed for the presidency in exchange for Hariri returning to the premiership, which he had held from November 2009 - June 2011.