Canada offers conditional assistance to Beirut blast investigators
Canada is willing to join Lebanon's investigation into the Beirut port explosion on conditon that it is credible and transparent, Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said on Thursday in the Lebanese capital.
After meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Champagne said that that Ottawa was ready to assist under a set of conditions.
"The Lebanese people expect that if Canada participates in this investigation it is because it is going to be credible, transparent and get to the bottom of things to get justice," he said in televised remarks.
At present, France and the US' FBI are known to be assisting Beirut in investigating the explosion which killed more than 180 people and injured more than 6,000.
On his visit to the crisis-stricken country, Champagne echoed the words of other Western officials who called for reform and a government capable of leading the country through testing times. Premier Hassan Diab's cabinet resigned over the blast, which was blamed on a store of ammonium nitrate left for years in a port warehouse despite warnings
"Everyone understands that the international aid must be accompanied by serious reforms," Champagne said.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned on Thursday that Lebanon is "at risk of disappearing" while also urging emergency reforms under a new government.
"The risk today is of Lebanon disappearing so these measures have to be taken," he told RTL radio ahead of President Emmanuel Macron's return visit to Beirut next week to push reform and reconstruction after the devastating port blast.
"They are caught up between themselves in a consensus of inactivity," Le Drian said. "That can't go on and we are saying that very clearly."