French FM urges structural reforms in Lebanon

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BEIRUT, July 23 (Xinhua) — French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Thursday urged Lebanese officials to make efforts in implementing necessary structural reforms to enable France to help Lebanon, MTV local TV channel reported.

“Help yourself for us to be able to help you,” Le Drian said while addressing Lebanese officials during his joint press conference with Lebanese Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti.

Le Drian arrived in Beirut a day earlier on a two-day official visit to meet with Lebanese officials and push forward reforms.

Le Drian emphasized the need by Lebanon to overhaul the electricity sector which “did not witness so far any positive or encouraging changes.”

The French official also urged the Lebanese to fight against corruption, smuggling, and allow independence and transparency of the judiciary system which is fundamental for Lebanon.

Le Drian assured that France maintains its support for the Lebanese military forces to guarantee stability and security in the country.

However, he urged Lebanese politicians to impose their full authority all over Lebanese territories while remaining neutral with regard to crises taking place in the rest of the region.

The French official insisted that the only solution for Lebanon to get out of its current crisis is to succeed in its negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by implementing various reforms including the forensic audit which will highlight the sources of money squandering in the country.

Lebanon has been negotiating a rescue plan with the IMF. It has so far failed to reach a consensus with the IMF due to its inability to come up with unified figures about losses incurred by Lebanon over the past 30 years.

Le Drian asked the Lebanese to prove their seriousness in making changes which would allow the country to access CEDRE funds.

CEDRE refers to the Conference for Economic Development and Reform through Enterprises, hosted by France in 2018, to help Lebanon raise funds to finance its plan to modernize infrastructure and develop economy.

Le Drian said France is assisting Lebanon on the humanitarian level by providing the country with medical donations since the COVID-19 outbreak. He added that France will also support Lebanon’s education system given the long historic ties between the two countries in this field.

For his part, Hitti noted that Lebanon is faced with multiple challenges on the economic, financial, social and political levels which require quick initiatives because the time has become too tight and Lebanon is in a dangerous situation.

Le Drian met earlier in the day with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Hassan Diab and House Speaker Nabih Berri.

According to local TV channel LBCI, Aoun asked Le Drian for France’s support in helping Lebanon in its fight against corruption.

Meanwhile, Diab gave an overview of the few reforms that were implemented by the Lebanese cabinet including the scanners which were placed at the airport and ports to control products that enter the country through these facilities and prevent loss of customs revenues.

Also, Diab asked France for support in the overhaul of the electricity sector and the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland. Enditem

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