PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron wants to give the Lebanese people hope for the future when he visits Beirut on Thursday, but aides say he will call for deep changes to build a “new Lebanon.”
Macron will be the first foreign leader to visit the Lebanese capital since an explosion at a warehouse on Tuesday killed at least 137 people.
France has long sought to support its former colony and is sending emergency aid after the blast, but diplomats say it has become increasingly worried about endemic corruption and has been pressing for reforms for some time.
“The aim of the president’s visit is to belie the idea that Lebanon is alone, sunk and about to disappear,” an adviser to Macron said. “It will be an occasion to try to give hope to the Lebanese, tell them there’s a way, and that France is there to walk alongside them.”
The adviser said the trip was also “an opportunity to lay out clear foundations for a contract to rebuild Lebanon that is demanding with everyone and that prevents conflicts.”