Macron hosts Lebanese PM as Israeli strike on Iran further shakes Middle East

Israel AP - Francois Mori
AP - Francois Mori

French President Emmanuel Macron will meet Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati and army chief Joseph Aoun in Paris on Friday to discuss ways to stabilise the region as Israel reportedly carries out retaliatory strikes on Iran. 

Macron's meeting with Mikati comes as explosions were reported from Iran's central Isfahan province, with US officials telling news outlets that Israel had launched drone attacks.

The attack comes less than a week after Tehran fired a barrage of more than 300 drones and missiles in its first-ever direct assault on Israeli soil.

That move was itself a reprisal for an earlier strike in Syria widely blamed on Israel.

The escalating tit-for-tat between the arch-rivals has prompted global powers to urge caution and appeal on both sides to not allow frictions underlying the war in Gaza to unravel into a wider conflict across the Middle East.

Hezbollah clashes

Meanwhile, Iran-backed Hezbollah forces based in Lebanon have clashed with the Israeli army in recent weeks, marking their most serious hostilities since a war between them in 2006.

"We need to keep a close eye on the stability of Lebanon," Macron said on Thursday at the end of a European Union summit, at which EU leaders backed new sanctions on Iran after its attack upon Israel.

"The European Council decided to increase its support for the Lebanese armed forces, and aid will be given to put in place vital steps needed for its economy and so it can deal with Syrian refugees.

Macron said that during his meeting with Mikati Aoun ihe would seek to "clarify a roadmap" on the matter.