Marine Le Pen held talks with Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun on Monday, the first time the Front National (FN) runner has met with another head of state.
During her stay Le Pen also exchanged with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, an opponent of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“We discussed the long and fruitful friendship between our two countries,” the FN leader said after her encounter with Aoun at the presidential palace.
Following his meeting with Le Pen, Prime Minister Hariri issued a statement heavy with warning: “The worst mistake would be to conflate Islam and Muslims with terrorism”, it said.
On the refugee crisis, Hariri called on the international community “to assume its responsibilities”.
Le Pen refuses to wear a headscarf
During her three-day visit to Lebanon, Le Pen was scheduled to meet Grand Sunni Muslim Mufti Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian on Tuesday morning. As his aides gave her a white headscarf to put on, she refused to wear it, claiming that she had previously met with the grand mufti of Egypt’s Al-Azhar, who “didn’t ask for this”.
“But this is not an issue. You can pass on my consideration to the Grand mufti, but I am not putting the veil on”, she said before leaving.
The mufti’s office retorted that the wearing of headscarfs was the protocol. In a statement, it declared that it “regretted this inappropriate behavior in such meetings”.
Le Pen is not the only candidate to have met with foreign officials in an effort to boost her international standing. Former French economy minister Emmanuel Macron also visited Beirut in January, where he met both Aoun and Hariri.