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Lebanon's Hariri says optimistic on government formation

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon’s prime minister-designate Saad al-Hariri said on Wednesday he was more optimistic than before that a new government would be formed.

“In the coming days we will complete the positive consultations with the president ... and God willing, matters are on the way to a solution,” he said in televised remarks after meeting President Michel Aoun.

“I am more optimistic than at any other time,” he added.

Foreign donors have said Lebanon, which held a parliamentary election on May 6, needs to form a government quickly to maintain confidence and start working on reforms to help its ailing economy.

Nearly all the new members of parliament backed Hariri to continue as prime minister in consultations with Aoun after the election, leading to his designation for the role.

In June he said he was “very close” to forming the government.

The new government, like the last one, is expected to include most major parties within Lebanon’s sectarian power-sharing system.

May’s elections were the first since 2009. Disputes between the country’s major political blocs caused paralysis for years until they agreed in 2016 on a national unity government.

The last government has continued as a caretaker administration since the election, in which allies of the Iran-backed Shi’ite movement Hezbollah gained in parliament.

Reporting By Laila Bassam and Angus McDowall; Editing by Alison Williams