Lebanese Leaders Must Form Government to Get Aid, Qatar Says

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Lebanese Leaders Must Form Government to Get Aid, Qatar Says

Qatar's foreign minister told Lebanese leaders Tuesday they needed to form a new government before they could get aid to pull the country from its economic and financial crisis.

"We carried a message ... to urge all sides to put national interest first above other political interests to form a government," Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, on a visit to Beirut, told reporters at the presidential palace. Any economic aid program for Lebanon "needs the presence of a government to work with on these projects," he said.

The minister held separate talks with President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri and caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab.

Lebanon's worst crisis since its 1975-90 Civil War has seen the currency lose 85 percent of its value, banks paralyzed, and half the population pushed into poverty.

Foreign donors who often came to the rescue have made clear they will not bail out the heavily indebted state without key reforms. Still, Lebanon's wrangling politicians have failed to agree on a new government, drawing rebuke from donors and warnings of "a social catastrophe" from UN agencies.

The outgoing Cabinet serves in a caretaker role since resigning in August over public fury at the Beirut port blast that killed 211 people and destroyed entire neighborhoods.

In 2008, Qatar hosted rival Lebanese leaders, brokering the "Doha agreement" that ended 18 months of political conflict and averted the risk of civil war.

In response to whether there was any similar Qatari mediation now, the foreign minister said Lebanese were always welcome in Doha but this was not currently in the works.


Source: Reuters