In Solidarity Visit after Lebanon Explosion, Macron Urges Gov’t Reforms
French President Emanuel Macron arrived in Beirut on Thursday to express solidarity with the city’s residents following Tuesday’s port blast, in which the death toll has risen to at least 145. “An urgent response… is required,” he said, adding that he would help organize additional aid from France, Europe and elsewhere. Nonetheless, Macron took time to indirectly offer what he called some “home truths” to Lebanon’s leaders. “Beyond the blast, we know the crisis here is serious; it involves the historic responsibility of leaders in place,” he told reporters. The French president was referring to the country’s economy, which is tottering due to staggering foreign debt, high prices, taxes and unemployment, as well as the coronavirus pandemic and a disgruntled citizenry accusing the government of corruption, ineptitude and deep partisanship. “We can’t do without telling each other some home truths,” he continued. “If reforms are not carried out, Lebanon will continue to sink.” The explosion at the port has been blamed on tons of ammonium nitrate that had been stored there for years, apparently with little regard for safety. The material is used in fertilizer, but also in homemade bombs.