Macron urges Lebanese President Michel Aoun to push through reforms

BEIRUT — As a result of the failure of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to form a new government and the lack of any action by Lebanese politicians to limit the influence of Hezbollah in the country, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by telephone on Friday with Lebanese President Michel Aoun.

Macron urged Aoun that a government needed to be formed as soon as possible and stressed the urgent need for reforms if Lebanon wanted the help of the international community.

French pressure on Aoun comes days after France allocated € 25 million euros to support the health, education, and other important sectors of Lebanese society hit hard by the August Beirut port explosion.

The U.S. has already advanced with its plans to sanction Lebanese officials affiliated or cooperative with Hezbollah. On Friday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions on former Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil for his involvement in corruption, embezzlement of public funds, and support for Hezbollah.

The sanctions included freezing all of Bassil’s assets in the United States and asked Lebanese banks that deal in U.S. Dollars to freeze his assets in Lebanon.

Bassil responded to the sanctions, saying in a tweet that he is not afraid of sanctions, nor will he turn on any Lebanese.