PARIS, France: French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Beirut on August 6 at the start of an official visit following the warehouse explosion that killed over 100 people in the city.
He was greeted on the tarmac by Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun.
Macron’s plane took off just before 0600 GMT.
Macron will seek to rally urgent aid for Lebanon but is also expected to press for overdue reform in France’s ex-colony, just two days after the blast — blamed on an unsecured store of ammonium nitrate at the Beirut port — killed 137 people, injured 5,000 more and destroyed entire neighborhoods.
“For the president, it’s a matter of showing that France is there — that is its role — and that he believes in Lebanon,” the presidential palace said.
He is scheduled to hold a news conference at 1530 GMT.
“The visit is also an opportunity to lay down the foundations for a pact for the reconstruction of Lebanon, binding for all, that will limit conflicts, offer immediate aid and open up a long-term perspective,” the Elysee said.
On August 5, France sent three planes to Beirut loaded with rescuers, medical equipment and a mobile clinic.
Two military planes left Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris with 55 search and rescue personnel on board and 25 tons of medical supplies.
A third plane, provided by the chief executive of shipping giant CMA-CGM Rodolphe Saade who is of Lebanese origin, took off from Marseille with medical equipment and a nine-strong medical team.
Meanwhile, Lebanese Economy Minister Raoul Nehme said the country’s financial capacity and that of its banks is “very limited,” they will be unable to financially confront the impact of the explosion without international aid.