Lebanese Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti is scheduled to arrive in Paris on Friday for talks with his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian, on Lebanon’s deteriorating economic and financial crisis.
Diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Hitti also plans to meet with Marielle de Sarnez, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the French National Assembly, and Christian Cambon, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the French Senate.
The sources said Hitti would brief the French officials on the areas of support that Lebanon is in need of in parallel with the reforms that it should undertake.
But the sources said not to expect any miracles. "The Cabinet has already asked for 100 days to complete its program,” they told Asharq Al-Awsat.
In Paris, the Lebanese Foreign Minister would stress that the government of Prime Minister Hassan Diab is keen on introducing “reforms capable of stopping the plundering of state resources, enhancing agriculture and industry, and strengthening the services sector.”
The sources said that Hitti chose to visit Paris because France is a friendly state, which has “good” relations with Lebanon.
France hosted the CEDRE conference in 2018 when foreign governments and donor institutions pledged $11 billion in financing to Lebanon for a 12-year infrastructure investment program, on condition that it carries out reforms.
However, Beirut has yet to fulfill the economic and financial reforms. Paris’ assistance to Lebanon in ending its crisis hinges on its implementation of the much-needed reforms.
The sources said Hitti plans to make more visits to other European countries in the coming days.
During recent meetings with western ambassadors in Beirut, the FM has heard of European willingness to directly or indirectly support Lebanon.
“But gone are the days of providing support to Lebanon” without any expectations of reform, the sources said.
Asked about Hitti’s contacts with Arab states, the sources said the Lebanese FM also aims to enhance his country’s relationship with the Arab world.