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Lebanon’s FM suggests government talks near ‘happy ending’

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lebanon, Gebran Bassil in Beirut, Lebanon on 23 August 2019 [Cem Özdel/Anadolu Agency]
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lebanon, Gebran Bassil in Beirut, Lebanon on 23 August 2019 [Cem Özdel/Anadolu Agency]

Lebanon’s caretaker foreign minister, Gebran Bassil, signalled on Tuesday that progress had been made in talks on forming a new government that must pull the country out of its worst economic crisis in decades, reports Reuters.

Talks between the main feuding parties have been deadlocked since Saad al-Hariri resigned as prime minister in late October under pressure from huge protests against the ruling elite.

A previous deal had appeared to be done but unravelled last month after a candidate for premier withdrew.

Political sources said on Tuesday progress had been made in negotiations to form an interim cabinet with Lebanese businessman Samir al-Khatib as prime minister.

READ: ‘We support formation of new government in Lebanon’

Bassil said there was now agreement on a government headed by “a trusted figure Hariri fully backs” and with a majority of “competent, specialized” people.

“The government must be open to everyone,” he told a news conference. “We have hope that matters have reached close to a happy ending.”

Protests in Lebanon - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Protests in Lebanon – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

President Michel Aoun was cited earlier as saying the coming days would bring “positive developments”.

Lebanese politicians must agree on a government that can enact reforms and attracts foreign support to stave off even worse collapse after years of bad governance, corruption, and waste.

The economic crisis, long in the making, has come to a head. A hard currency crunch has left many importers unable to bring in goods, forcing up prices. Banks have curbed Us dollar withdrawals and blocked nearly all transfers abroad.

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