Lebanese icon Fairouz 'top of Macron's' Lebanon meeting list

Lebanese icon Fairouz 'top of Macron's' Lebanon meeting list
Iconic Lebanese singer Fairouz is due to meet the French president during his second visit of Lebanon since the deadly port blast, the presidency confirmed.
2 min read
28 August, 2020
Fairouz, pictured here in 2010, has long steered clear of the public eye [AFP]
France’s President Emmanuel Macron will meet Lebanon's iconic singer Fairouz at the start of his second trip to the country, as part of a push for major reform following a deadly port blast which wreaked the country’s capital, the Elysee said on Friday.

Macron will spend Monday and Tuesday in Lebanon, returning to the country after a previous trip in the immediate aftermath of the Beirut port explosion which killed 181 people and prompted renewed calls for change in the country.

While the leader will meet key members of Lebanon's political leadership, announcement of his meeting with Fairouz, a rare figure in Lebanon whose popularity transcends the country's deep-rooted ethnic and sectarian divisions, confirmed speculation which was rife across Arabic-speaking news outlets.

Fairouz, 85, has long steered clear of the public eye but her songs, which dwell on the timeless themes of love and nation, have roused listeners in Lebanon and the wider Middle East through decades of war and internal strife.

Karim Emile Bitar, a political science professor in France and Lebanon, wrote on Twitter that it was an "excellent decision" by Macron to meet Fairouz, calling her "arguably the most iconic, dignified and consensual Lebanese figure."

On Tuesday, Macron will be in the palace of President Michel Aoun, seeking to break a stalemate which has paralysed the political process in Lebanon.

"He won't let go," an Elysee source told AFP, who asked not to be named.

"The purpose of his visit is clear: to push for the conditions to be met for the formation of a government that is capable of carrying out reconstruction and reforms," the source added.

The blast led to the resignation of Prime Minister Hassan Diab's cabinet, and Macron's Monday arrival will coincide with the start of parliamentary consultations to find his replacement.

Agencies contributed to this report

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