French FM to Visit Lebanon Next Week to Push for Reforms


French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will visit both Iraq and Lebanon at the end of next week, media reports said.

According to Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, Le Drian will hold meetings with President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Hassan Diab and Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti.

“Paris is still awaiting serious positive indications about Lebanese authorities’ desire to confront the aggravating crisis,” the daily quoted a senior French source as saying.

“The other message that the French side wants to convey is to explain to the Lebanese that their betting on their friends abroad to get assistance to rescue the country from collapse is not valid, and that the irreversible condition, as mentioned by Le Driab, is carrying out real and serious reforms, something that has not happened until the moment,” the source added.

Separately, the source denied reports suggesting that Paris and Washington are seeking to replace Diab’s government with one formed of experts and independents with the aim of Hizbullah’s exclusion.

“Paris realizes that the departure of the current government will stand for the beginning of a phase of governmental vacuum which no one would know when it would end, and thus vacuum’s outcome would be further economic, financial and social difficulties,” the newspaper added.

The source also reiterated that French sources have several times emphasized that Paris’ top priority is assisting Lebanon and not “exploiting the Lebanese situation to pressure a certain side or using it in the ongoing regional conflict between the United States and Iran.”

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