BEIRUT (AP) — France's foreign minister said Tuesday that his country will do everything in its power to help Lebanon emerge from its political stalemate, urging Lebanese politicians to overcome their differences to face the immense challenges ahead.
Jean-Marc Ayrault, who is on a two-day visit to Beirut, told reporters that resolving Lebanon's two-year-old crisis is a must to help deal with the security and economic problems plaguing the country.
Lebanon has been without a president since President Michel Suleiman stepped down in May 2014 at the end of his term, because of deep divisions between its politicians. Both the Cabinet and the parliament have been paralyzed.
The country has also suffered bouts of violence in the past few years, a spillover from neighboring Syria's civil war. Lebanon, a tiny country with a population of around 4.5 million, is also hosting more than a million Syrian refugees.
"The Lebanese people are facing several security challenges. There are negative and dramatic consequences from the situation in Syria, including the refugees," Ayrault said.
"We should protect Lebanon from the consequences of the war in Syria," he added.
Ayrault said France wants to see a solution for the Syria conflict, now in its sixth year, and called for the resumption of peace talks starting with a cease-fire.