France’s foreign minister will double down on a message to Lebanese officials, during a trip to Beirut this week, that no international aid will be provided until Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s government carries out badly needed reforms.
Jean-Yves Le Drian was set to arrive in Lebanon late Wednesday. According to a senior French diplomatic source, he is carrying “a clear and firm message on the urgent need to begin implementing long-overdue reforms.”
The source downplayed reports that a new financial aid package will be announced to help Lebanon during its unprecedented financial and economic crisis.
However, an aid package will be revealed for Francophone and Christian schools of the French system.
“Just over 50 percent of Lebanese students are in some type of French-speaking schools, whether that is public or private schools,” the diplomatic source told Al Arabiya English.
This will be Le Drian’s first official visit as foreign minister, although he attended former Maronite Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir’s funeral last Spring.
The French official will also stress the need for Lebanon to adopt a policy of neutrality and “stay away from regional conflicts,” the source said.
Asked about recent French discussions with US and Gulf leaders over Lebanon, the source said these talks “always take place.”
“[We] all care about Lebanon, we are allies of Lebanon and talk [among each other about Lebanon],” the source said.
Washington has stressed that it will support and help Lebanon if it carries out reforms, including clamping down on rampant corruption in various public sectors.
Le Drian is set to meet with Lebanon’s top officials, and he will visit humanitarian projects funded by Paris.