France assures Lebanon of its financial aid if need be

Supporters of the Free Patriotic Movement, during a protest against central bank in Hamra, Beirut, Lebanon, 20 February 2020. Protesters are demanding to return stolen money that was transferred into accounts in Swiss banks. EPA-EFE/NABIL MOUNZER

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France is ready to support Lebanon financially – bilaterally or multilaterally – its finance minister said on Sunday, warning against mixing economic recovery in the small Mediterranean state with U.S.-led efforts to counter Iran in the region.

“France always stands ready to help Lebanon. It has always been the case in the past and it will be the case in the future…” Bruno Le Maire told Reuters at the end of a meeting of finance officials from the Group of 20 (G20) major economies.

“If there is any help required from Lebanon, France will be there.”

Lebanon’s long-brewing economic crisis spiraled last year as the country’s capital inflows slowed and protests erupted against the ruling elite.

As the crisis deepens, hitting ordinary Lebanese hard, there is no sign of foreign aid. Western and Sunni-led Gulf Arab states that helped in the past have made clear that any support hinges on Beirut implementing long-delayed reforms to address root causes such as state corruption and bad governance.

Saudi Arabia’s finance minister said on Sunday the kingdom was in contact with allies and international bodies to coordinate any support for Lebanon on the basis of economic reforms proposed by Beirut.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Reuters in an interview that Washington was keeping a close eye on the situation. “It’s something we’re monitoring – both the political and economic issues there,” he said. “Our interest is in the people of Lebanon. We want there to be safe environment where they can succeed economically and live as they want to.”

Read more via Reuters

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