BEIRUT — French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna arrived in Lebanon Thursday evening, the French embassy in Lebanon told L'Orient Today.
Colonna is scheduled to meet with President Michel Aoun, in the presence of her counterpart, caretaker Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib, France's Foreign Affairs ministry said in a statement on Thursday. She will also meet with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.
"As the constitutional deadline approaches for the election of a new Lebanese president, the Minister will reiterate France’s commitment to the proper functioning of Lebanon’s institutions," the statement said, adding that Colonna "will emphasize the fact that it is also urgent for Lebanon to have a fully functioning government, to get Lebanon out of the very serious crisis it has faced for months and implement the economic and financial reforms provided for in the agreement signed in April with the IMF, which are essential in the very worrying situation the country is experiencing."
Earlier in the day Thursday, Lebanese lawmakers again failed to elect a successor to President Michel Aoun, whose term expires on Oct. 31 — raising fears of a power vacuum in the face of the country's economic and financial meltdown.
"The visit will also provide an opportunity to pay tribute to the historic agreement on the delimitation of the maritime border between Lebanon and Israel this week, which France worked towards with its international partners," the French statement added.
After intense negotiations mediated by the United States, Israel announced the "historic" agreement with Lebanon on Tuesday, thus removing the main obstacle to the exploitation of gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean.
Lebanon deemed the final version of the agreement, proposed by the American envoy Amos Hochstein, to be "satisfactory" but has not yet officially announced its acceptance.