France to host meeting in mid-June to garner support from Lebanese army | World news


PARIS (Reuters) – France will convene a virtual meeting of countries on June 17 to secure support for the Lebanese military as it seeks to weather an economic crisis that has put the military on the brink of collapse, said Tuesday the French Ministry of the Armed Forces. .

Paris, which led aid efforts to its former colony, has sought to step up pressure on quarrelsome politicians in Lebanon, after unsuccessful attempts to rally them to a new government and launch reforms to unlock foreign liquidity.

Discontent is brewing among Lebanese security forces over a currency crash wiping out most of the value of their wages.

Army chief Joseph Aoun was in France last month to warn of an increasingly untenable situation and in response, Paris provided food and medical supplies for military personnel, whose salaries had fallen by five or six times, forcing many to take additional jobs.

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Two diplomatic sources said the meeting would seek assistance from countries offering food, medical supplies and spare parts for military equipment. However, it was not designed to supply weapons or other military equipment.

“The objective is to draw attention to the situation of the FAL (Lebanese Armed Forces), whose members are facing the deterioration of living conditions and which may no longer be able to fully fulfill their missions, essential to stability of the country, “the ministry said, adding that it would host the meeting with the United Nations and Italy.

It aims to encourage donations to benefit the LAF, he said.

Countries from the Lebanon International Support Group, which includes the Arab Gulf States, the United States, Russia, China and European powers, have been invited.

The Lebanese pound has collapsed 90% since late 2019 in a financial collapse that poses the greatest threat to stability since the 1975-1990 civil war.

The military has long been viewed as a rare institution of national pride and unity. Its collapse at the start of the civil war, when it split along sectarian lines, led to the downfall of Lebanon under militia rule.

(Reporting by John Irish; editing by Grant McCool)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

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