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France says it's ready to provide financial support to Lebanon

France's finance minister has said Paris will support Lebanon [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 February, 2020

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France says it will provide financial support to Beirut, as Lebanon struggles through an economic crisis.
France said it will provide financial support to Lebanon - whether multilaterally or unilaterally - as Beirut struggles through one of its worst economic crises in decades.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire spoke to Reuters on Sunday at a G20 meeting, where he warned Washington against mixing Beirut's need for economic recovery and US efforts to cripple Iran, an ally of some ministers in the Lebanese government.

"France always stands ready to help Lebanon. It has always been the case in the past and it will be the case in the future," Le Maire told the agency on Sunday.

"If there is any help required from Lebanon, France will be there."

Lebanon has been crippled by a currency crisis and strict withdrawal limits at banks, which has seen a number of businesses close and money woes for its citizens.

Mass protests led to the fall of the previous government with new Prime Minister Hassan Diab's government being sworn in last month, following support from Hezbollah.

France is concerned that the US - in its bid to pile on pressure on Iran regionally - might target Lebanon, due to the presence of Hezbollah-linked ministers in government.

"We know that there are ties between the two issues but we don't want to mix the issue of economic recovery in Lebanon, which is today the clear emergency, and the question of Iran," Le Maire added.
Lebanon is looking for international backing, with Saudi Arabia signalling it could help Beirut along with other international organisations.

The IMF have met with Lebanese officials to look at a way out of the crisis, as Beirut mulls over whether to default on debt repayments.

A World Bank representative told Bloomberg on Sunday that Lebanon could implode unless it develops a new governance strategy with less corruption and more transparency.

"Politicians need to stop and listen," Ferid Belhaj, the World Bank's most senior MENA official, said in Dubai on Sunday.

"You cannot continue doing what you've been doing for years when you see what the reaction on the street is and when you see what the state of the economy is."


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