France's FN raided over European Parliament expenses scandal

"I met the Grand Mufti of Al-Azhar ..."

Le Pen's two-day visit to France's former colony has been seen as a way to boost her foreign policy image as well as target the votes of French citizens of Lebanese descent, many who fled to France following a civil war. Her bodyguard was also questioned.

Florian Philippot, the deputy leader of France, fuelled speculation the row was a publicity stunt when he tweeted: "In Lebanon, Marine refuses to wear a veil". His 30-minute meeting with the daughter drew some criticism.

An Elabe poll on Tuesday showed Fillon's share rising to between 20 and 21 per cent and Macron's falling to between 17 and 18.5 percent for the first round on April 23.

Le Pen's comments provoked criticism on the issue of her support for Assad.

During the meeting, Hariri, leader of the country's Sunni Muslims, called upon the West "not to equate Islam and terrorism". The French government insists Mr Assad must leave office to establish peace in Syria, while saying it's willing to talk to his government to arrange a transition.

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Hariri's father Rafik, a former Prime Minister, was assassinated in a massive auto bomb attack in Beirut in 2005 which the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is widely suspected of perpetrating. That's a stance deeply at odds with Hariri - and with France's current political position on the conflict.

Florian Philopot, deputy leader of the National Front, said Le Pen's action represented "a lovely message of emancipation and freedom sent to the women of France and the world".

In her final press conference, she said that there is now no alternative to the Assad government.

Le Pen is the favourite to make the final round of the election in May, but so far Macron and Fillon have been inseperable in the polls.

French investigators probing an alleged fake jobs scam by the far-right National Front (FN) raided the group's headquarters outside Paris on Monday, the party said. The party denies the claims.

Either man would beat Le Pen in the second round - a trend confirmed by Wednesday's Opinionway poll - although she has been narrowing the deficit in recent surveys. She replaced her father as president in 2011.

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