ISTANBUL: Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri paid an unannounced visit Friday to Turkey for talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that came with his crisis-hit country struggling to form a government.
The two-hour “private” meeting at Erdogan’s Istanbul residence focused on regional security issues and “deepening and strengthening” ties, the Turkish presidency said, without providing details.
Hariri’s office said he and Erdogan also discussed “ways to support the efforts to stop the collapse and rebuild Beirut as soon as the new government is formed in Lebanon”.
Hariri, whose is a son of Lebanon’s slain prime minister Rafik Hariri, was renamed to the premiership post of a third time in October, almost a year after stepping down under pressure from an unprecedented protest movement.
The 50-year-old inherited a country reeling from an economic crisis whose impact was compounded by the coronavirus pandemic and the aftereffects of a Beirut port blast that killed more than 200 people and ravaged the capital in August.
Turkey has been playing an increasingly assertive role in the region under Erdogan, who has been vying for diplomatic influence with rivals such as France.
French President Emmanuel Macron visited Lebanon in August and September, pushing for political reform.
After Macron’s first visit, Erdogan accused the French leader of pursuing “colonialist” aims in Lebanon.
Erdogan’s office said the Turkish leader reaffirmed his support for the “unity and peace” of Lebanon, which was once part of the Ottoman Empire.