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President Aoun, Marine Le Pen, Premier Hariri
Beirut

Le Pen: ‘There is no other choice but Assad’

Marine Le Pen told L’Orient Le Jour that she was considering to reestablish diplomatic ties with the Syrian government, to reopen the French Embassy in Damascus and to meet Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Published: February 21, 2017, 7:41 am

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    Le Pen held talks with the Lebanese premier as well as the president in Beirut.

    Assad was a more “reassuring” choice for France, as the only realistic alternative for power was Islamic State, she told Bloomberg. “Since we can’t let ISIS take power, there is no alternative to Assad,” Le Pen, who is currently on a visit to Beirut, said. Lebanon is a former French protectorate.

    “There is no viable and plausible solution other than this binary choice, which is Bashar al-Assad on one hand and the Islamic state on the other hand,” she said. “Assad is obviously today a much more reassuring solution for France than the Islamic State.”

    The current unpopular French government, along with most of its globalist allies, insists that Assad should leave office for regime change and have funded the war effort to get rid of him.

    Lebanon is the last Middle Eastern country left with Christian president. Le Pen met with president Michel Aoun and spoke to reporters after their meeting. “We had a very substantial talk,” Le Pen said. “France and Lebanon have been bound by friendship and partnership for many years but we need to strengthen bilateral relations.”

    Aoun, who was elected late last year, is backed by Hezbollah, an Iranian ally in the region. Le Pen together with MP Gilbert Collard had a 30-minute encounter with Aoun at the presidential palace in the hilltop suburb of Baabda, boosting her international credibility.

    Le Pen said that “Lebanon and France, who share common history, must be the pillars of the struggle against Islamic fundamentalism”.

    Le Pen’s call for Assad to stay in power came after her meeting with Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri. After the meeting, Hariri, leader of the country’s Sunni Muslims, issued a statement “not to equate Islam and terrorism”. Hariri said: “Most Muslims stick to moderate approaches.”

    Hariri is an opponent of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

    Le Pen highlighted “the weight of taking charge of an exceptional number of refugees for the economy and the health system” in Lebanon. She emphasized the need to provide more aid to Lebanon that had sheltered over one and a half million Syrians, in order to prevent them from moving to Europe. “We have also discussed the war on terror and come to the conclusion that Paris and Beirut need to cooperate to combat radical Islam,” the FN leader added.

    Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency reported that the cost of Syrian refugees have crippled its ailing economy.

    She also met with Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil, Christian Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rai, and Christian Lebanese politician Samir Geagea.

    Le Pen’s Lebanese trip is part of her presidential election campaign. She has repeatedly voiced support for Christians residing in the Middle East. Her visit is a gesture to the “Christians of the Orient”, a source from her party was quoted by Lebanon’s French daily L’Orient Le Jour as saying on Wednesday.

    Le Pen told L’Orient Le Jour on 20 February in an interview that no decision had been made yet over the retroactivity of legislation that would ban French citizens from holding a second nationality.

    “In principle, one can truly only have one nationality,” Le Pen said, but she did not exclude the possibility of some exceptions “through bilateral agreements with some countries”.

    Monday’s daily OpinionWay poll showed that Le Pen’s chances rose by 1 percentage point to 27 percent in the first round of the coming elections, with independent Emmanuel Macron and Republican Francois Fillon unchanged at 20 percent each.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel has refused to meet with Marine Le Pen.

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