Lebanon's talks with IMF expected to start in November

A deal with the fund could be the only way for the country to receive much-needed monetary aid

Lebanon's negotiations with the International Monetary Fund are set to start in November, the country's Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib has said.

Mr Bou Habib also said he was “optimistic about reaching an agreement" on the maritime border dispute between Lebanon and Israel, Lebanon's Al Jadeed TV reported.

Economy Minister Amin Salam said on Friday that the new government aimed to make progress towards starting full negotiations for an IMF deal by the end of this year or early 2022.

However, he does not expect the funds to be dispersed before elections in March.

Lebanon is experiencing its worst financial crisis and an IMF deal is widely regarded as the only way for it to secure aid.

Lebanon and Israel are in a dispute over the delineation of their territorial waters and negotiations could lead to Beirut being able to unlock valuable gas reserves.

They have been holding on-and-off talks mediated by the US to try to resolve the issue.

Mr Bou Habib also said the Iranian nuclear negotiations have an effect on Lebanon while talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia “will reflect positively” on the country.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said in Beirut earlier this month that talks between Tehran and Riyadh to reduce tension had gone a “good distance".

Iran and Saudi Arabia, the leading Shiite and Sunni Muslim powers in the Middle East, have been rivals for years and cut diplomatic ties in 2016.

Mr Bou Habib said there was no close relationship with Saudi Arabia at the moment as “improving the relationship is not in our hands”.

Updated: October 27th 2021, 5:44 AM
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