United Nations tells Lebanon no aid until it forms a new government

Lebanon cannot expect to receive international aid for its battered economy until a new government undertakes serious reforms, diplomats decided at a closed-door meeting in Paris on Wednesday.

The international group, led by France and the United Nations, met to discuss conditions for helping ease turmoil in Lebanon, which is facing its worst financial crisis in decades and political uncertainty amid an ongoing protest movement. Lebanese businesses and households are growing increasingly desperate as cash supplies there have dwindled.

Representatives from several countries, including the United States, and international financial institutions agreed on a set of principles Lebanon must meet before it can expect to receive foreign cash.

U.S. Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker said attendees agreed to give technical advice to Lebanese institutions but they won’t provide the bailout that caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri requested. Hariri had called on Saudi Arabia, France, Turkey, the United States, China, and Egypt to send funds to help Lebanon finance imports.

“There’s no aid package; there is no bailout,” Schenker told The Associated Press. “Lebanon is not being saved from its financial mess.”

Schenker said the group is considering sending some humanitarian aid to Lebanon to alleviate residents’ suffering, though it was unclear when or how much.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in closing remarks that the group supports protesters who have taken to the streets since Oct. 17 to call for an end to corruption and the overhaul of the Lebanese political system.

“The Lebanese have mobilized for many weeks to demand reforms. They must be heard,” he said.

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