BEIRUT — French envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian met Thursday with MP Mohammad Raad, the head of Hezbollah's parliamentary bloc, on the third and final day of his visit to Beirut in a bid to break Lebanon's presidential election deadlock.
Lebanon has been without a president since Michel Aoun's term ended on Oct. 31 with no successor in place.
No details about Le Drian and Raad's meeting Thursday were released as of publication time. Afterward, Le Drian met with the leader of the Armenian Tachnag party, MP Hagop Pakradounian. No official details were issued on that meeting, either.
After arriving in Beirut on Tuesday afternoon, Jean-Yves Le Drian met Speaker of the House Nabih Berri, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, Free Patriotic Movement leader Gebran Bassil, Progressive Socialist Party leader Taymour Joumblatt, Kataeb party leader Sami Gemayel and opposition MP Michel Moawad.
According to our political correspondent, Le Drian met again with Berri on Thursday afternoon.
This is Le Drian's second trip to Beirut since being appointed special Lebanon envoy by French President Emmanuel Macron. The visit comes just nine days after the last meeting of the so-called "Group of Five" (France, USA, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar) in Doha on July 17.
A statement issued after the Doha meeting made no mention of an expanded inter-Lebanese dialogue on the presidential election, a French proposal rejected by the other four members of the group.
Le Drian is now calling for consultations focusing exclusively on the future head of state, their profile and their platform. These are due to take place in September, and should be followed by successive electoral sessions, barring any unforeseen setbacks.
While Hezbollah and Amal back the candidacy of Marada Movement leader Sleiman Frangieh for president, the majority of Christians and the rest of the opposition are behind IMF official Jihad Azour.
Paris had initially proposed a deal that would see the presidency go to Frangieh and the prime minister's post go to the opposition's favored candidate at the time, judge and diplomat Nawaf Salam. This proposal was rejected not only by some local players but also by France's international partners.
Additional reporting contributed by Hoda Chedid