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Lebanon's Hariri visits Cairo as he seeks to form delayed government

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Ted Shaffrey/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Egypt

Lebanon's Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri met on Wednesday with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Choukri, as part of a whirlwind visit to Cairo. The two officials discussed the socio-economic crisis in Lebanon and the formation of the new government, delayed for almost a year.

Shukri called on the Lebanese political parties "to put the supreme interest of the country above narrow interests," assuring that "Egypt supports Lebanon to help it get out of its current situation," in remarks reported by Hariri on Twitter.

Beleaguered Hariri is keen to garner support from regional powers, as he seeks to form a government needed to tackle his country's growing crisis.

Lebanon has been without an active government since August 2020, after the resignation of the cabinet of Hassane Diab in the wake of the double explosion in the port of Beirut.

Lebanon is suffering from its worst economic crisis in 30 years. Across the country, tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs and millions more struggle to buy basic necessities – all amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic.

The crisis has caused the value of the Lebanese pound – or lira – to plummet to record lows, and many lenders have held off support until a new government is constituted.

The country is one of the most indebted in the world, owing creditors some $90bn or 170% of its GDP.

Later on Thursday, Hariri presented his cabinet list to President Michel Aoun for approval.

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