France Tuesday urged Lebanon’s leaders to move forward with implementing key reforms as an essential step toward unlocking promised international aid to the crises and debt-ridden nation.
The plea was made by French Ambassador to Lebanon Anne Grillo during her meetings with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Najib Mikati and MP Gebran Bassil, head of the Free Patriotic Movement, an official source said. It came a few days after a new Cabinet was unveiled by Mikati, ending 13 months of political deadlock that aggravated the worst economic and financial crisis in the country’s history.
Grillo visited Berri, Mikati and Bassil mainly to thank them for their roles in facilitating the formation of a new government, the source said.
“Grillo’s tour is linked to the French role played by President Emmanuel Macron in facilitating the government formation. It is no secret that Macron followed up either directly or indirectly through his aides on the difficulties and obstacles that encountered the government formation. There was a clear French effort that facilitated the formation,” the source familiar with the matter told The Daily Star.
The source cited the phone conversation between Macron and Iran’s new President Ebrahim Raisi during which the two leaders agreed on supporting the formation of a new government in Lebanon.
According to the source, Grillo asked the three leaders to cooperate and facilitate the new government’s task in implementing reforms, while highlighting Parliament’s role in approving the required reforms to release foreign aid to the cash-strapped country.
“The French are concerned to see some reforms enacted during a short period,” the source said.
Macron, whose country has emerged as the main power broker in Lebanon since last year’s massive Beirut Port explosion, was the first foreign leader last Friday to welcome the formation of a new government in Lebanon, stressing that it was vital that Lebanese politicians stick to engagements necessary to undertake key reforms.
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