BEIRUT — Lebanon must make reforms required by the International Monetary Fund and hold "timely elections" to choose a new president by a constitutional deadline, representatives from the United States, France and Saudi Arabia said in a joint statement Wednesday on the sidelines of the 77th United Nations General Assembly in New York.
"Our three countries expressed their continuing support for Lebanon’s sovereignty, security, and stability," said the three representatives after a meeting Wednesday, which did not include any Lebanese representatives. "It is critical to elect a president who can unite the Lebanese people and work with regional and international actors to overcome the current crisis."
The constitutional deadline for Parliament to choose Lebanon's next president is Oct. 31, when current leader Michel Aoun's term ends.
The three representatives also called for the formation of a government "capable of implementing the structural and economic reforms urgently needed to address Lebanon’s political and economic crises, specifically the reforms needed to reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund."
An IMF delegation led by Ernesto Ramirez-Rigo completed its three-day visit to Lebanon on Wednesday, as the country seeks to unlock a multi-billion-dollar aid package. Ramirez-Rigo said he expected more concrete measures to be adopted after the May legislative elections so that Lebanon and the IMF would reach a final agreement on a financial aid package "between the end of September or early October."
The IMF and Lebanese government reached a preliminary agreement in April on the loan, pending a set of economic reforms that Lebanon must enact in order to receive the funds. But those reforms have stalled, while the country also has yet to form a new cabinet since the May parliamentary election.
In their statement from the UN Wednesday, the US, France and Saudi Arabia representatives expressed their willingness to work jointly with Lebanon "to support the implementation of these fundamental reform measures," acknowledging the "critical role" the Lebanese Army and the Internal Security Forces "continue to play in protecting the Lebanese people in a time of unprecedented crisis."
"We affirm the need for the Lebanese government to implement the provisions of UN Security Council Resolutions 1559, 1680, 1701, 2650," which deal with various aspects of governance and sovereignty in the country, "and other relevant international resolutions, including those issued by the Arab League, and commit to the Taif Agreement, which enables the preservation of national unity and civil peace in Lebanon," the joint statement added.