.
.
.
.

French, US envoys to Lebanon to visit Saudi Arabia in bid to stem major crisis

Published: Updated:

The French and US envoys to Lebanon are to visit Saudi Arabia, France’s embassy said on Wednesday, an unusual move amid international pressure to lift Lebanon out of a roiling political and economic crisis.

The visit on Thursday comes as Lebanese battle shortages and price hikes on basic goods in what the World Bank has called one of the world’s worst economic crises since the 1850s.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

World powers have demanded a new government before any financial aid to the cash-strapped nation, but for around 11 months Lebanese politicians have failed to agree on a line-up.

“The (French) ambassador will explain how urgent it is that Lebanese officials form a credible and effective government to work on implementing necessary reforms,” the embassy said.

The French envoy would, “with her American counterpart, express France and United States’ desire to exert pressure on those responsable for the deadlock,” it said.

Last month the top diplomats of the United States, France, and Saudi Arabia jointly urged Lebanon’s squabbling leaders to come together.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held an impromptu meeting with his Saudi and French counterparts in Italy on the sidelines of talks of the Group of 20 major economies.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held an impromptu three-way meeting on the Lebanon troubles with his Saudi and French counterparts on the sidelines of talks of the Group of 20 major economies in Matera, Italy. (Twitter: @SecBlinken)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held an impromptu three-way meeting on the Lebanon troubles with his Saudi and French counterparts on the sidelines of talks of the Group of 20 major economies in Matera, Italy. (Twitter: @SecBlinken)

They discussed “the need for Lebanon’s political leaders to show real leadership by implementing overdue reforms to stabilize the economy and provide the Lebanese people with much-needed relief,” Blinken wrote on Twitter.

Lebanon’s economic crisis has slashed more than 90 percent off the value of the local currency against the dollar on the black market, and more than half the population now face poverty.

In April, France imposed sanctions against Lebanese figures it says are responsible for the political crisis, banning them from entering its territory.

The European Union has also threatened sanctions against Lebanese leaders unless they work together.

The government resigned after a deadly port blast last summer that killed 200 people, but has stayed on ever since in a caretaker capacity.

Read more:

French envoy slams Lebanon PM for shifting blame on economic collapse

Lebanon parliament approves cash subsidy costing $556 mln annually

The reality between multiple crises and affluent lifestyles in Lebanon