France gives tentative nod to Lebanese government over reforms

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France said on Tuesday that it was encouraging the Lebanese government to push ahead with the necessary reforms to restore the economy and that it remained committed to putting into action decisions made at a donor’s conference last year.

Lebanon’s Cabinet on Monday approved an emergency reform package in a bid to defuse the biggest protests the country has seen in decades and help unlock billions pledged in Paris last year.

“France is attentive to the latest developments in Lebanon. It calls for the preservation of the peaceful nature of the protests and the strict respect of the rights of all Lebanese to protest,” Foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von Der Muhll said in a statement.

“It renews its encouragement to the Lebanese government to carry out the necessary reforms to enable the restoration of the Lebanese economy and the provision of public services by the State, for the direct benefit of all Lebanese citizens,” she said.

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Lebanon, which has been battered by eight years of war in neighboring Syria and is hosting more than a million Syrian refugees, wants the funds for investment to overhaul its infrastructure and lift dwindling economic growth.

Donors in turn want to see Lebanon commit to long-stalled reforms and work to curb corruption.

“France stands alongside Lebanon. It is in this perspective that we are committed, with our international partners, to the rapid implementation of the decisions taken at the CEDRE conference in Paris in April 2018,” von der Muhll said.

She made no specific reference to the decisions announced by the Lebanese government on Monday.

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