Headscarf row dominates Le Pen's Lebanon visit

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23 February, 2017

Theresa May is meeting the front-runner to be the next French president for talks at 10 Downing Street.

Commenting on the overall Brexit negotiation, he told reporters that "Brexit can not lead to a kind of optimization of Britain's relationship with the rest of Europe". "I will not put on the veil".

Lebanon, a former French protectorate, shares a large border with Syria, and has taken in some 1.2 million Syrian refugees - the equivalent of one-fourth of its own population.

After meeting with the French visitor, Hariri said in barely-veiled criticism of Le Pen's political stances, "The Lebanese and Arabs, like most of the world, considers that France is the home of human rights, and that the republican state makes no distinction between citizens on ethnic, religious or class grounds". "The judicial system shouldn't be upsetting the presidential campaign".

Macron is also one the few candidates expressing positive views about the EU.

"We need Europe", he said in London, adding that France could "not triumph without Europe".

Macron, who has outlined a no-concessions policy towards Britain's departure from the European Union, issued the same call he made later in the day for French citizens to move back to France.

Le Pen has denied any wrongdoing.

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Ms Le Pen is consistently tipped in opinion polls to win the 23 April first round of the two-round race but she is also tipped to lose the two-way runoff ballot on 7 May to either Mr Fillon or independent centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron.

"The French can tell the difference between genuine scandals and political dirty-tricks", Le Pen told reporters while on a visit to Meaux.

Le Pen, who has led the anti-EU party since 2011, is a member of the European Parliament which accuses her of defrauding it off almost 340,000 euros. More than 600,000 people were killed and some six million people were displaced in the conflict.

According to the poll, 24 percent of respondents refused to say what they would vote in case of a run-off between Le Pen and Macron; 32 percent in case of a Le Pen-Fillon vote.

Louis Daillencourt, 26, a business developer from Westminster, said: "He is winning on a platform of being neither Right nor Left".

Marine Le Pen, France's far-right National Front leader and presidential candidate is now on a 48-hour visit to the Lebanon.

"I note that when Marine Le Pen refuses to don the headscarf, it is criticized, but when Michelle Obama refused to do it in Saudi Arabia, it was considered admirable", she said, soliciting applause from the accompanying delegation.


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