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President Macron visits Beirut. Screenshot from YouTube
Beirut

French president meets Hezbollah, pleads for ‘new political order’ in Beirut

After the disaster that struck the Lebanese capital, Emmanuel Macron asked during his trip on Thursday for a “profound change” on the part of the leaders of Lebanon. He also met with a Hezbollah representative.

Published: August 7, 2020, 9:34 am

    The capital of Lebanon was hit by two explosions of extreme violence on Tuesday, August 4, killing at least 137 people and injuring 5 000 others. In the wake of this tragedy, Emmanuel Macron quickly promised help in Beirut.

    The President of the French Republic visited the site of the blast on Thursday, August 6. As FranceInfo reported, he notably announced, during a press conference, the dispatch of the French amphibious helicopter carrier Le Tonnerre next week. He promised that an international support conference would be organised “in the next few days” to coordinate aid, especially between the United Nations and the World Bank. During a press conference on Thursday evening, Emmanuel Macron said: “The emergency is foremost aid.”

    He had arrived in Beirut at the end of the morning. There he met his Lebanese counterpart Michel Aoun as well as other local politicians. He claimed to have “been frank, direct, sincere” towards them.

    During his press conference, the President of the French Republic also called on the country’s leaders to “make a profound change” to get Lebanon out of this crisis. “It is the time of responsibilities,” he insisted, pleading for a “re-establishment of a new political order” according to public broadcaster FranceInfo.

    Earlier, in front of a crowd exasperated by the corruption demanding “the fall of the regime”, Emmanuel Macron tried to calm the atmosphere: “I am also here to launch a new political initiative. This is what I am going to express this afternoon to the Lebanese leaders and political forces.”

    He then traveled to the port of Beirut – where the explosion devastated the entire neighborhood leaving thousands of Lebanese homeless. The locals were even more angry and helpless. They called for help from France to oust the leaders in power, including Michel Aoun. When a resident asked him for the support of Paris in order to “get rid of this political class”, Macron replied: “Lebanon is a sovereign people, it is not for me to do it, it is you.”

    The French president has promised that he would return on September 1 in order to verify that the proposed aid has indeed been distributed. He assured that everything would be done so that this aid “does not go into the hands of corruption”.

    The meeting between Macron and Hezbollah political leader, MP Mohammad Raad who is also a member of the Shura council – the highest authority in Hezbollah led by Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah – is said to be the beginning of a series of future meetings expected between France and Hezbollah.

    The Hezbollah representative was invited on French soil, at the French Embassy in Beirut, notwithstanding the fact that the US and Germany consider Hezbollah a terrorist organisation.

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