AP, Romania’s decision to invite Lebanon’s prime minister to the Francophone Summit but exclude its president has sparked a diplomatic flap with France, which has supported the snub. It is the third time in 10 months that Lebanon has found its prime minister to be more acceptable at international meetings than its president, who is seen as having been imposed on Lebanon by Syrian influence.
Lebanon will boycott the Francophone Summit, scheduled to be held in Bucharest in September, if its president is not invited, the office of President Emile Lahoud said Wednesday.
"It is really astonishing for the French state to adopt this position," the president’s office said in a statement late Tuesday. "It regrettably confirms the information about direct interference by French President Jacques Chirac." Chirac is known to be at odds with Lahoud and was close to the Lebanese leader’s political rival, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who was assassinated in February last year.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei has said of Romania’s decision to exclude Lahoud: "We don’t disapprove."
The fuss began a few days ago when Romania invited Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora, a political rival of Lahoud, but not the president.
Saniora has said he is considering the invitation, but he has been criticized by some politicians for failing to reject it immediately in defense of the status of the presidency. Two former prime ministers, Salim Hoss and Omar Karami, have urged Saniora to reject the invitation.

There were similar disputes about who represented Lebanon at the Arab summit in Khartoum in March and the U.N. General Assembly in New York in September. Lahoud and Saniora led separate delegations to both events.