French official to Lebanon: No president, no loan

Published March 23rd, 2015 - 07:55 GMT

A visiting French official Monday reminded Lebanon that it could not benefit from $181 million worth of loans if the country fails to elect a president before a summer deadline.

The French Development Agency has granted the Lebanese government soft loans valued at 166 million euros ($181 million) that cannot be used due to the paralysis in Lebanon’s state institutions, Annick Girardin, France's minister of state for development and francophonie, said in a news conference in Beirut.

The official called on Lebanese politicians to elect a president and revive public institutions to allow for the processing of the loans. If that is not achieved by June, the loans will expire, she said.

She touted the French Development Agency for pledging 26 million euros for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

Girardin, who is set to attend a donor summit for Syrian refugees in Kuwait next week, said that France will continue to assist Lebanon in accommodating the mass influx of refugees.

The French official, who met with the Prime Minister Tammam Salam and a number of Lebanese ministers during her two-day visit, said that she relayed to the government France’s insistence on insulating Lebanon from the spillover of the Syrian conflict.

The visit comes in the framework of a strong “friendship” between the two countries that is characterized by historic, cultural and economic ties, she said.

The visit also marks the conclusion of the International Month of the Francophonie, which will come to a close at the end of March.

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