Erdogan Calls Hariri, Voices Support for Lebanon

Lebanon's Prime Pinister Saad Hariri (r) is greeted by his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan before a meeting in Ankara, on January 14, 2011. Hariri is in Turkey for talks on the political turmoil in his country. AFP PHOTO/ADEM ALTAN / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri received a phone call Tuesday from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Hariri’s office said.

The Turkish leader congratulated Hariri on his appointment as PM-designate and stressed to him that “Turkey stands by Lebanon,” the office said.

Michel Aoun’s election as president and Hariri’s appointment as premier-designate have raised hopes that Lebanon can begin tackling challenges including a stagnant economy, a moribund political class and the influx of more than a million Syrian refugees.

In a sign that Hariri’s mission as premier might not be easy, Hizbullah’s MPs declined to endorse him during binding parliamentary consultations.

Hariri is likely to struggle with his government’s policy statement, which will have to make reference to Israel, as well as the war in Syria, both potential flashpoints with Hizbullah.