Middle East

EU worried at Lebanon's fast deterioration, says time has run out

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People wait in cars to get fuel at a gas station in Zalka, Lebanon, August 20, 2021. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

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BEIRUT, Aug 26 (Reuters) - The European Union is deeply concerned at the rapid deterioration of the crisis in Lebanon, its ambassador to Beirut said on Thursday, telling Lebanese leaders the time for action had run out and urging them to form a government.

It reflects growing worry about a sharp deterioration of the situation in Lebanon, where a two-year-long financial meltdown hit a crunch point this month as fuel shortages paralysed much of the country, sparking chaos and numerous security incidents.

"We feel extreme concern about the rapid deterioration of the economic, financial, security and social crisis," Ambassador Ralph Tarraf said after meeting President Michel Aoun, carrying an urgent message from EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

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The EU continues to provide substantial aid to the Lebanese people, he said, but Lebanese decision-makers - who have failed to agree on a new government for a year - needed to live up to their responsibilities.

"There is no more time," he said in remarks delivered in Arabic.

Last week, an international support group including France and the United States said the "fast-accelerating crisis underscores the utmost urgency of forming a government capable of taking the situation in hand".

The crisis has sunk the currency by more than 90%, forced more than half of Lebanese into poverty and frozen depositors out of their accounts. The World Bank has called it one of the sharpest depressions in modern times.

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Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Alex Richardson

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