French FM Arrives in Beirut for Talks with Top Leaders

FILE - In this Aug.19, 2013 file photo, former French prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault addresses reporters at the Elysee Palace in Paris. French President Francois Hollande has named Thursday Feb.11, 2016 Ayrault as new foreign minister in a government reshuffle. Ayrault, a low-key veteran of the Socialist Party, replaces Laurent Fabius, who helped clinch a landmark climate accord in Paris last year and played a prominent role in negotiations on a nuclear accord with Iran.(AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere, File)

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault arrived in Beirut Wednesday evening on an official visit.

Ayrault, who is accompanied by a French foreign ministry delegation, will hold talks with President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri and will congratulate the two leaders on their new posts, the National News Agency said.

The French minister will also meet with his Lebanese counterpart Jebran Bassil.

Upon his arrival at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport, Ayrault expressed his “relief” over the election of a new Lebanese president and “his joy over the presence of the president’s portraits in the airport’s halls and rooms,” NNA said.

Ayrault’s visit is the first by a senior French official since Aoun’s election as president on November 31.

Separately, an adviser to the Iranian foreign minister, Hussein Sheikh al-Islam, is expected to arrive in Beirut Wednesday evening.

Another Iranian figure, adviser to the Iranian Minister of Health, Amir Mohsen Dayay, is expected to arrive in Beirut in the next few days.