| 9 December 2023, Saturday |

French army minister to visit Lebanon amid rising regional tensions

Sebastien Lecornu, France’s defense minister, will meet with officials in Lebanon beginning Wednesday, including caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, and will also visit a UN peacekeeping station, his cabinet stated on Sunday.

Since the commencement of the Gaza conflict earlier this month, border tensions between the crisis-torn Arab republic and its southern neighbor Israel have risen.

The minister seeks to reaffirm France’s “commitment to the stability of Lebanon”, his office told news agency AFP in a statement later confirmed to Reuters by his spokesperson.

On Thursday, Lecornu will visit the United Nations peacekeeping force UNIFIL, which on Saturday saw its headquarters near the Lebanese coastal town of Naqoura damaged by a shell that landed inside the base.

France is one of the main contributors to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, where it has deployed nearly 700 troops.

The Israeli army and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militant group in Lebanon have exchanged fire daily since early October.

Lebanon and France, its former colonial power, are linked through numerous political and economic ties.

French President Emmanuel Macron led international aid efforts after an explosion that killed more than 200 people in Beirut in 2019, but his efforts afterwards failed to resolve the political and economic crisis that followed.

  • Reuters