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Int’l Support Group Sends 3 Messages to Lebanese Officials

Int’l Support Group Sends 3 Messages to Lebanese Officials

Saturday, 7 December, 2019 - 08:15
French President Emmanuel Macron (R) shakes hands with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri during the CEDRE Conference for international donors and investors to support Lebanon's economy, in Paris, France, April 6, 2018. Ludovic Marin/Pool via Reuters/File Photo
Paris - Michel Abou Najm
France is scheduled to host a meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon on Wednesday in an effort to send clear messages to the leaders in the country, which has seen a deteriorating political and economic crisis since anti-government protests erupted on Oct. 17.

Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the meeting in Paris will be attended by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, in addition to Germany, Italy and three Arab states - Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt.

Representatives from the Arab League, the European Union, the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are also expected to attend.

The meeting will have two separate sessions - one in the morning and another in the afternoon.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian would deliver the opening speech while the ministry’s secretary general is expected to lead the discussions.

In the afternoon session, the Lebanese delegation is expected to join the participants before a closing statement is issued.

The meeting comes two days after Lebanon holds binding parliamentary consultations to name a new Prime Minister, following several weeks of delay.

The meeting aims to mobilize assistance for the country, after caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri requested aid to help Lebanon secure imports of food and raw materials.

The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that in its final communique, the ISG plans to call on Lebanese officials to swiftly form a new government in light of the difficult social, economic and financial situation.

The attendees would not tackle in detail the shape of the next cabinet, which is a Lebanese matter. However, they hope that the government includes “technocrats” and meets the demands of the people.

Second, the ISG is expected to ask that Beirut respect the reforms listed during the CEDRE conference held in Paris last year.

According to the same sources, participants would reiterate that there will not be any release of aid if Lebanon does not respect the pledged reforms.

“If the Lebanese think that during next Wednesday’s meeting, participants would send financial support to Lebanon, they are seriously mistaken,” the sources added.

The third message aims to ask the authorities that the anti-government protesters be represented in the new cabinet.

Informed sources in Paris ruled out that the meeting would respond to Hariri’s requested aid to help Lebanon secure imports of food and raw materials.

They said Lebanese officials should stop making promises and start working on reforms to improve the country’s dire economic situation.

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