Paris – AFP
French President Emmanuel Macron will receive the new Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Friday over a lunch to discuss the unprecedented economic and social crisis that Lebanon is witnessing, and the reforms that must be implemented to get out of it.
The Elysee Palace announced that during the working lunch, Macron and Mikati will discuss “the measures and reforms to be implemented” in Beirut “as well as their timetable.”
The role of France and the international community in supporting Najib Mikati and his government in implementing this reform program will also be addressed.
Macron has visited Lebanon twice since the massive explosion in the port of Beirut on August 4, 2020, and is making great efforts towards the Lebanese crisis.
The explosion, whose echoes reached the island of Cyprus, resulted from storing quantities of “ammonium nitrate” without preventive measures, and caused the death of at least 218 people, and injured more than 6,500 others.
The explosion also caused massive damage to the port and neighborhoods in its vicinity, affecting most of Beirut and its suburbs.
Mikati will visit Paris five days after the Lebanese Parliament granted confidence to his government, which was formed on September 10, after a vacuum that lasted 13 months and exacerbated the crisis in the country.
The new government faces difficult tasks, most notably trying to stop the economic collapse.
It will also have to resume negotiations with the International Monetary Fund and supervise the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for May next year.
Mikati announced his commitment to implementing the French initiative put forward by Macron in September 2020, which provides for economic reforms in return for international assistance.
The economic collapse drained the reserves of the Banque du Liban, caused the Lebanese pound to lose more than 90 percent of its value, and put 75 percent of the Lebanese under the poverty line, amid the emigration of thousands of the able and affluent.
The World Bank described the economic crisis in Lebanon as one of the worst in the world since the 1850s.