France will back Lebanon, including an IMF plan: Finance minister

Le Maire speaks during a press conference at the Finance Ministry in Paris, France, January 7, 2020. (File photo: Reuters)

France is looking at options to help Lebanon recover from its financial crisis, including an International Monetary Fund (IMF) program if Beirut seeks one, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Monday.

He also told reporters in Abu Dhabi that he had discussed the situation in Lebanon with the United Arab Emirates leadership.

“We are very concerned,” Le Maire said, adding that the United Arab Emirates and France will decide separately if and how to support the government in Beirut.

“We (France) are looking at different options, maybe an IMF program if the Lebanese government asks for one... but we will not manage any effort to help Lebanon.”

Lebanon has been under pressure from investors and protesters and its government is running out of options to avoid a default. An IMF team has discussed all possible options in recent meetings with Lebanese officials, who are seeking technical advice.

As the crisis deepens, hitting ordinary Lebanese hard, there is no sign of foreign aid to the deeply indebted country.

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri rushed last year to Abu Dhabi seeking investments and financial aid when protests erupted against the country’s ruling elite.

However, 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.

“Each country will decide in a sovereign way what to do,” Le Maire said.

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Last Update: 17:51 KSA 20:51 - GMT 17:51
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