Lebanon negotiations with the IMF are expected to start in November – Foreign Minister


The Lebanese Minister of Economic Affairs, Amin Salam, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Beirut, Lebanon, October 22, 2021. REUTERS / Mohamed Azakir

October 24 (Reuters) – The Lebanese foreign minister said on Sunday that negotiations with the International Monetary Fund would likely begin in November, Lebanese television Al Jadeed reported.

Economy Minister Amin Salam had said in an interview with Reuters on Friday that the new administration wants to make progress in opening full negotiations on an IMF deal by the end of this year or early next year, but does not expect the funds to be available before the elections to be distributed in March. Continue reading

Lebanon is experiencing its worst financial crisis ever and an IMF deal is widely seen as the only way to secure aid.

Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib also spoke about the sea border dispute between Lebanon and Israel, telling Al Jadeed that he was “optimistic about reaching an agreement”.

The two countries are arguing over the delimitation of their territorial waters and negotiations could result in Lebanon being able to develop valuable gas reserves.

You have had discussions mediated by the US over and over again to try to solve the problem.

Bou Habib also said the Iranian nuclear negotiations are having an impact on Lebanon.

He added that the Iran-Saudi Arabia talks will “reflect positively” on Lebanon.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said in Beirut earlier this month that talks between Tehran and Riyadh aimed at easing tensions had gone “a good deal”. Continue reading

Iran and Saudi Arabia, the leading Shiite and Sunni powers in the Middle East, have been rivals for years and severed diplomatic ties in 2016.

Bou Habib said there are currently no close ties with Saudi Arabia. “Improving the relationship is not in our hands.”

Saudi Arabia, which once spent much in Lebanon, has avoided it for years because of the influence of the Iranian-backed Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanese affairs.

Reporting by Nayera Abdallah; Adaptation by David Evans and Peter Cooney

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