INTERNATIONAL

Macron to visit Beirut as France pushes reconstruction

Emmanuel Macron

Emmanuel Macron  

President Emmanuel Macron will travel to Lebanon on Thursday, the first world leader to visit Beirut after the port blast that wreaked destruction across the capital, as France seeks to push reconstruction in its former colony.

“I will go to Beirut tomorrow to bring the Lebanese people a message of fraternity and solidarity from the French,” Mr. Macron wrote on Twitter. “We will discuss the situation with the political authorities,” he added.

The President’s Elysee Palace office said Mr. Macron will “meet all political actors”, including President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Hassan Diab.

Both sides will be hoping the visit goes more smoothly than a trip last month by France’s top diplomat Jean-Yves Le Drian, who scolded Lebanon’s political elite for being too “passive” in the face of an economic crisis compounded by the COVID-19 outbreak.

In the aftermath of that visit, Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti resigned in protest at his government’s lack of crisis management.

France has sent three planes to Beirut loaded with rescuers, medical equipment and a mobile clinic.

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