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Aoun Appoints His Advisor as Lebanon's Foreign Minister

Aoun Appoints His Advisor as Lebanon's Foreign Minister

Lebanon named the president's diplomatic adviser as new foreign minister on Monday after Nassif Hitti quit the post, blaming a lack of political will to enact reforms to halt a financial meltdown which he warned could turn Lebanon into a failed state.

"The absence of an effective will to achieve the required comprehensive structural reform that our national community demands and that the worldwide community invites us to do" is another reason Hitti cited for his resignation.

His resignation is a blow to Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab's government, which has struggled to implement reforms amid rapidly spiraling inflation and soaring unemployment and poverty, made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the great and resilient people of Lebanon", Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted.

The FM submitted his resignation to the prime minister and left the government house without making any comments.

"I took part in this government to work for one boss called Lebanon, then I found in my country multiple bosses and contradicting interests", he said.

Talks with the International Monetary Fund, which the heavily indebted state entered in May after a sovereign default, are stalled due to a row over the scale of vast financial losses between the government, banks and lawmakers from the main parties. "If they do not come together in the interest of the Lebanese people, the ship will sink with everyone on board".

His resignation is the biggest blow yet to Diab's six-month-old government, which has struggled to make good on promises that it would implement wide-ranging reforms following massive anti-establishment protests a year ago.

The blast centred on the city's port caused massive destruction and killed more than 100 people, heaping misery on a country already in crisis.

Hitti's resignation shows "that Lebanon is in a state of total confusion", said Hilal Khashan, a professor at the American University of Beirut.

"Lebanon's people are being robbed of basic rights every day while politicians squabble over the size of the country's financial losses and hamper efforts at reform", said Aya Majzoub, the group's Lebanon researcher.

Diab's cabinet was formed with the backing of the powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah and its political allies, including the Free Patriotic Movement, founded by Aoun.

Lebanese media cited several reasons for Hitti's resignation, including reports that he was displeased with how Lebanese officials were encroaching on his prerogatives and handling diplomatic ties.