US, French ambassadors: Lebanon ‘desperate’ for new Cabinet

BEIRUT (AP) — 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 U.S. 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 Riyad meeting was a follow-up on the trilateral meeting among U.S. 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 emphasized 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.

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