BEIRUT – The American and French ambassadors to Beirut said in a joint statement 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 by ambassadors Dorothy Shea and Anne Grillo came a day after the two held talks in Riyadh with Saudi officials on how to find 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 among US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, and Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud last month in Italy on the margins of the G-20 conference, the statement said.
Lebanon’s political leaders are deeply divided over the formation of a new government to handle the crises, which erupted in late 2019 and present the most serious threat to Lebanon’s stability since the 15-year civil war ended in 1990.
Ambassadors Grillo and Shea emphasised that concrete actions by Lebanese leaders to address rampant corruption will be crucial to unlocking additional support from France, the United States, regional and international partners.
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.