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Lebanon president asks for Europe's help to recover smuggled funds

Lebanese President Michel Aoun [Ratib Al Safadi/Anadolu Agency]
Lebanese President Michel Aoun [Ratib Al Safadi/Anadolu Agency]

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has asked French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, for help to recover funds which have been smuggled out of the country, in an effort to begin reforms and prosecute those who have misused public resources.

During a meeting held Thursday the two officials yesterday, Aoun stressed "that achieving reforms including financial auditing which constitutes the first item of the French initiative announced on September 1 is essential for the advancement of Lebanon and restoring the Lebanese people and the international community's confidence," a statement issued by the presidential office said.

Aoun also briefed the visiting minister about the government formation process and explained the constitutional responsibilities entrusted to the president and his responsibility to maintain the political and sectarian balance during this period.

Lebanon is grappling with a deep economic crisis after successive governments piled up debt following the 1975-1990 civil war with little to show for their spending binge.

Banks, central to the service-oriented economy, are paralysed. Savers have been locked out of dollar accounts or told funds they can access are worth less. The currency has crashed, driving a swathe of the population into poverty.

France is leading international efforts to push Lebanon to tackle corruption and implement other reforms demanded by donors.

READ: Lebanon bank governor faces corruption allegations in France

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