BEIRUT — French President Emmanuel Macron warned on Tuesday that "the extension of the [Hamas-Israel] conflict into Lebanon will have serious repercussions for the country." In a letter addressed to caretaker Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati on the occasion of Lebanon's Independence Day, excerpts of which were published by the Grand Serail, he also reiterated the need to elect a President of the Republic, while the country has been plagued by a vacancy in the supreme magistracy for over a year.
"France realizes that it has a unique responsibility towards your country, a responsibility that is reflected in the role we play within the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon," Macron stressed in his letter. He also warned that "no party should use Lebanese territory in such a way as to compromise the country's sovereign interests."
His statements come as Hezbollah is engaged since Oct. 8 in hostilities with Israel on the southern border. The bombings have already claimed over a hundred lives in Lebanon, mostly Hezbollah fighters, but also 13 civilians, including three Lebanese journalists.
"Today, we must avoid the worst," Macron wrote in the letter. "During our discussions, I emphasized to the Israeli Prime Minister the interest we have in your country and expressed my concerns about the risks of escalation and the extension of the conflict to Lebanon."
Addressing the political deadlock in Lebanon, the French President specified that "the presidential vacuum that has persisted for over a year weighs on the country's ability to overcome the current crisis and prevent a deterioration in security linked to the ongoing war in Gaza."
"Without a president or an active government, there is no possibility of overcoming the security, social, economic, and financial deadlock that primarily affects the Lebanese people." He assured that "France is redoubling its efforts to strengthen Lebanon's stability, security, and independence."
France's special envoy for Lebanon, Jean-Yves Le Drian, arrived in Beirut on Tuesday evening for another round of talks with political leaders in a bid to break the deadlock in the presidential elections, a process paralyzed since last June.