Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab said yesterday that the visit of French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to his country brought nothing new.
This came in a statement delivered during a meeting of the Supreme Defence Council, at the Presidential Palace, east of the capital Beirut, to discuss security developments in the country.
Diab said: “Le Drian’s visit brought nothing new, and the French minister is poorly informed on the set of reforms implemented by the Lebanese government.”
He added that Le Drian stipulated reforms in order to provide aid to Lebanon through the International Monetary Fund (IMF), “which confirms that the international community decided so far not to assist Lebanon.”
Diab stressed “the importance of unifying the Lebanese position in the negotiations with the IMF, moving quickly to the second stage of negotiations, and working to stop blackmail attempts targeting Lebanon,” without providing further details.
On 3 July, Lebanese Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni announced the suspension of talks with the IMF that began in May, to obtain funds in order finance a plan to revive the economy.
Since 17 October, Lebanon has witnessed massive popular protests, with demonstrators blocking major roads and pursuing politicians who they accuse of corruption and stealing money.
Lebanon is also currently facing its worst economic crisis since the end of the civil war in 1990, and has seen the currency, the Lebanese lira, or pound, lose more than 80 per cent of its value in recent months, undermining the dollar peg which has been in place since 1997.
Officially, the lira is pegged to the US dollar at 1,507.5. In recent months, however, it has traded between 4,500 and 9,000 to the US dollar on the black market.
In response, the government has introduced a second exchange rate of 3,900 to $1 for importers of essential items, including food, allowing importers to purchase goods with dollars. Regular depositors are still tied to the pegged rate.