France’s Macron to meet Lebanese singer Fairuz in push for Lebanon reform

France’s Macron to meet Lebanese singer Fairuz in push for Lebanon reform

French President Emmanuel Macron will next week meet iconic singer Fairuz and members of Lebanon’s political leadership as he returns to the country in search of serious reform in the wake of the devastating Beirut port blast, the Elysee said Friday.

Macron will be in Lebanon on Monday and Tuesday for his second visit in less than a month after the August 4 blast at the Beirut port that killed 181 people and revived calls for radical change in the country.

Macron on Friday warned that Lebanon risks a return to civil war if it is left alone to deal with the crisis that followed the explosion.

“If we let Lebanon go in the region and if we somehow leave it in the hands of the depravity of regional powers, it will be civil war” as well as “the defeat of what is the very identity of Lebanon,” he said.

Lebanon's President Michel Aoun (L) receiving French President Emmanuel Macron at the Beirut airport Aug. 6, 2020. (AFP)Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun (L) receiving French President Emmanuel Macron at the Beirut airport Aug. 6, 2020. (AFP)

One of his first meetings after arriving on Monday will be with Fairuz, one of the rare figures in Lebanon who is admired across the multi-confessional country, the Elysee said.

Fairuz, 85, is famously private and rarely seen in public but throughout her career has roused fans with her songs about love and in praise of the beauty of her troubled nation.

A video grab shows French President Emmmanuel Macron (C) inspecting the damages at the port of Lebanon's capital Beirut, on August 6, 2020. (AFP)A video grab shows French President Emmmanuel Macron (C) inspecting the damages at the port of Lebanon’s capital Beirut, on August 6, 2020. (AFP)

Macron will meet political leaders at the palace of President Michel Aoun on Tuesday with the aim of encouraging movement in a political process already mired in stalemate.

“He won’t let go,” said an Elysee source, who asked not to be named.

“The purpose of his visit is clear: to push for the conditions to be met for the formation of a government that is capable of carrying out reconstruction and reforms,” added the source.

Premier Hassan Diab’s cabinet has resigned over the blast, which was blamed on a store of ammonium nitrate left for years in a port warehouse despite warnings.

Macron’s arrival Monday will coincide with the start of parliamentary consultations on the choice of a new prime minister.

On August 9, Macron chaired a video conference that saw world leaders pledge more than 250 million euros ($295 million) for Lebanon.

But France has made clear its patience is far from limitless; Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned Thursday that Lebanon risked “disappearing” as a country unless serious reforms are undertaken.

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