Lebanon ‘desperate’ for new Cabinet, US and French ambassadors say

Statement comes a day after diplomats held talks on finding a unified strategy to help Lebanon

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea speaks during a news conference in Beirut, Lebanon, June 29, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo

The US and French ambassadors to Beirut said in a joint statement on Friday that Lebanon is in “desperate need” of a new, pro-reform government to lead it out of its unprecedented economic and financial crisis.

The statement made by ambassador Dorothy Shea of the US and Anne Grillo of France came a day after the two held talks in Riyadh with Saudi officials on finding a unified strategy to help Lebanon.

Friday’s statement said France, the US and other countries will continue extending urgent assistance to the Lebanese people, including health, education and food support.

Lebanon is suffering severe shortages of basic products, including medicine, fuel and baby formula amid dwindling foreign currency reserves and a free fall of the national currency.

The Riyadh meeting was a follow-up on the trilateral meeting between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, which took place last month in Italy on the margins of the G20 conference, the statement said.

Lebanon’s political leaders are deeply divided over the formation of a new government, which will be responsible for handling the crisis that erupted in late 2019 and which presents the most serious threat to Lebanon’s stability since the 15-year civil war ended in 1990.

Ms Grillo and Ms Shea emphasised that concrete actions by Lebanese leaders to address rampant corruption will be crucial to unlocking additional support from France and the US as well as regional and international partners.

Updated: July 9th 2021, 9:26 PM