French President Macron welcomes Lebanon’s Hariri to Elysee Palace

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, welcomes Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the Elysee Presidential Palace on November 18. (AFP)
Updated 18 November 2017
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French President Macron welcomes Lebanon’s Hariri to Elysee Palace

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed Saad Hariri for talks Saturday, an AFP reporter said, hours after the Lebanese premier arrived from Saudi Arabia in the midst of a political crisis.
Hariri, who made a resignation announcement on November 4 and has since fended off claims he was being held in Saudi Arabia against his will, was also due to have lunch with Macron.
Macron has been attempting to help broker a solution to a political crisis that has raised fears over Lebanon’s fragile democracy.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun has refused to accept Hariri’s resignation while he remains abroad, and Macron said ahead of the talks that he would be welcomed “with the honors due to a prime minister.”
Aoun said on Saturday that he had spoken by telephone to the premier after his arrival in Paris, and that Hariri said he would be back in Lebanon for Independence Day celebrations on Wednesday.
VIDEO: Saad Hariri and his family meet French President Macron at Elysee
 


Iran arrests groups planning attacks on pilgrims

Updated 22 min 10 sec ago
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Iran arrests groups planning attacks on pilgrims

  • Iran’s Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi did not specify when and where the arrests had taken place
  • The militant groups were allegedly planning to attack during the annual pilgrimage of Arbaeen
LONDON: Iran said on Tuesday it had arrested 15 militants planning attacks on Shiite Muslims making an annual pilgrimage to Iraq.
Hundreds of thousands of Iranians travel to the Iraqi city of Kerbala each year for the ritual of Arbaeen, which marks the end of a 40-day mourning period for the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, Imam Hussein.
Iran’s Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi, visiting the Iran-Iraq border area, was quoted by state television as saying that “three terrorist groups that wanted to target Arbaeen mourners were arrested.”
Tasnim news agency quoted Alavi as saying the arrests took place in southwestern Khuzestan province in recent days, and 15 people were arrested.
“The detainees confessed that they wanted to carry out suicide attacks to kill the pilgrims,” Alavi said.
He gave no indication when the attacks were due to take place, but the culmination of the pilgrimage this year falls at the end of October.
Shiites are considered apostates by hard-line Sunni Islamist insurgents in Iraq. Armed Sunni groups in Iran have also increased attacks on military and civilian targets in recent months.
Iran stepped up security in border areas after five gunmen killed 25 people at a military parade in the city of Ahvaz, in Khuzestan province, in September.
Daesh militants and an Iranian ethnic Arab opposition movement claimed responsibility for the attack, but neither claim provided convincing evidence.
At least 10 Iranian security personnel including Revolutionary Guards were kidnapped on the border with Pakistan last week. A Sunni separatist group said it had seized them as revenge for the oppression of Sunni Muslims.