Le Pen cancels meeting with cleric over headscarf

"It's enough to see which candidates, Marine Le Pen or Francois Fillon, Russia expresses preference for in the French electoral campaign", Ayrault said, adding: "Russia is the first to say that non-interference in domestic affairs is a cardinal rule and I understand that".

Marine Le Pen still remains a longshot prospect for eventual victory, but with each new headline she generates I grow more convinced that she is a savvy political actor.

"The most serious error would be to link Islam and Muslims on the one hand and terrorism on the other", Hariri said.

"Not a single day passes in which I'm not criticized on social media for that", he said.

Mr Macron accused his main rival Marine Le Pen of the National Front of trying to "push France into the 19th century" and said her plan to take the country out of the European Union would "kill" the economy and harm middle-class interests.

The Grand Mufti's press office said that Le Pen's delegation had been informed of the headscarf requirement before the meeting.




The Prime Minister met with the French candidate at No 10 today - as he visited London to try and woo some of the 300,000 expats in the UK. Polls suggest either man would easily beat Le Pen in the May 7 run-off.

Le Pen and Aoun also discussed the lingering Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon, in addition to matters of common interest.

Commenting on the Syrian refugee crisis, she said: "It is significant that this crisis can not continue due to its grave repercussions that impact the economy, health systems and other aspects".

Asked if May would be prepared to meet Le Pen, he said: "There's a long-standing policy that we don't engage with the Front National". The potential damage to French relations with Lebanon is obviously minimal, but Le Pen must be reveling in the opportunity which was dropped at her doorstep.

However the French presidential candidate is visiting Lebanon in an attempt to burnish her credentials as a defender of Christians in the Middle East ahead of France's April 23 presidential elections.

Brussels claims Le Pen, also a member of the European Parliament (MEP), used EU funds to pay a total of €340,000 to her bodyguard and a Paris-based assistant, claiming that they were EU parliamentary assistants.

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