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US, France, Saudi lead calls on Lebanon reform at G20 sidelines

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Berlin, Germany on 23 June 2021 [Mücahit Aydemir/Anadolu Agency]
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Berlin, Germany on 23 June 2021 [Mücahit Aydemir/Anadolu Agency]

Top diplomats from the US, France and Saudi Arabia held discussions yesterday at the sidelines of a G20 ministerial in Matera, Italy, on how to address Lebanon's on-going economic crisis.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with his French and Saudi counterparts, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Prince Faisal Bin Farhan where they discussed "the need for Lebanon's political leaders to show real leadership by implementing overdue reforms to stabilise the economy and provide the Lebanese people with much-needed relief," according to a tweet by Blinken.

Blinken also spoke separately with Bin Farhan about the US-backed, Saudi-led coalition war against Yemen and human rights issues, which US President Joe Biden had pledged to address when he took office at the start of this year.

READ: Lebanon: Hezbollah looks to import Iran oil amid fuel shortages

The US and Saudi, along with France a former colonial power, are key players in Lebanon's political affairs having previously worked together to establish the Taif Accord in 1989 ending the country's civil war and its subsequent sectarian political system, which many believe is obsolete and outdated. Iran is also an important player and is the main supporter of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement and political party.

Lebanon has been without a functioning government since the resignation of Prime Minister Hassan Diab's cabinet last year after the fallout of the massive explosion at Beirut's port that left over 200 people dead and over 6,000 injured. The political instability is coupled with a deteriorating economy and living conditions amid soaring food prices, fuel and medicine shortages and the Lebanese pound having lost 90 per cent of its value against the US dollar since 2019.

READ: Lebanon: Russian delegation visits with construction projects

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