Frenchman Macron to tell Lebanese leaders ‘inner truths’ in Beirut


PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron wants to give the Lebanese people hope for the future when he visits Beirut on Thursday, but aides say he would call for sweeping changes to build a ‘new Lebanon’ .

FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron attends a joint press conference with his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, July 23, 2020. REUTERS / Benoit Tessier

Macron will be the first foreign leader to visit the Lebanese capital since an explosion in a warehouse on Tuesday killed at least 137 people.

France has long sought to support its former colony and sends emergency aid after the explosion, but diplomats say it is increasingly concerned about rampant corruption and has been pushing for reforms for a long time. time.

“The purpose of the president’s visit is to deny the idea that Lebanon is alone, sunk and on the verge of disappearing,” said an adviser to Macron. “It will be an opportunity to try to give hope to the Lebanese, to tell them that there is a way, and that France is there to walk alongside them.

The adviser said the trip was also “an opportunity to lay a clear foundation for a demanding contract for the reconstruction of Lebanon with everyone and preventing conflicts”.

Another source close to the president made it clear that Macron expected action from the Lebanese leadership.

“He wants to tell them some internal truths: France is ready to mobilize the international community, but this must imply a profound change for a new Lebanon,” said the source.

Lebanese officials blamed the disaster on a huge stockpile of highly explosive materials in the port of Beirut.

But the Lebanese, who lost their jobs and saw their savings evaporate in a financial crisis, blamed politicians who profited from decades of state corruption and poor governance.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called for “concrete action” during a visit to Beirut last month and said protesters’ calls for change and transparency did “unfortunately not been heard so far ”.

Report by Michel Rose, edited by Timothy Heritage

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