Macron warns Iran against 'interference' in Lebanon



French President Emmanuel Macron listens to Lebanon president Michel Aoun during a donor teleconference concerning the situation in Lebanon with other world leaders, from Fort de Bregançon in southern France on August 9th. [Christophe Simon/POOL/AFP]

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday (August 12th) warned Iran against any interference in Lebanon after the gigantic blast last week at Beirut's port that has prompted a political crisis in the country.

In telephone talks with President Hassan Rouhani, Macron emphasised the "necessity for all the powers concerned... to avoid any outside interference and to support the putting in place of a government which can manage the emergency", the Elysee said.

Lebanon's government under Prime Minister Hassan Diab resigned this week following days of demonstrations demanding accountability over the explosion at the Beirut port last week that devastated entire neighbourhoods of the city.

Iran wields huge influence in Lebanon through Hizbullah, which was strongly represented in the outgoing government and has an alliance with the faction of President Michel Aoun.

Macron, who was the first world leader to visit Beirut after the explosion, has taken the lead role in co-ordinating the international response.

The UN Security Council will vote this week on a US resolution to extend a UN arms embargo on Iran, which is not expected to pass due to opposition from veto-wielding China and Russia.

France and its European allies also back an extension of the embargo, but Iran has angrily countered that the move is a key part of the nuclear deal.

Macron told Rouhani he wanted to "preserve the framework" of the accord and work towards calming tensions in the region.

The ban on selling weapons to Iran is set to be progressively eased from October under the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 2231 of 2015.

In June, Britain, France and Germany said they opposed lifting the UN arms embargo, arguing it would "have major implications for regional security and stability".

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