Lebanon earmarks June 21 to reopen airport if coronavirus decline remains stable

An employee of a private company sprays the interior of the Lebanese capital Beirut's Rafiq Hariri international airport with disinfectant, to limit the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, on March 18, 2020. (FIle/AFP)
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Updated 01 June 2020

Lebanon earmarks June 21 to reopen airport if coronavirus decline remains stable

  • The capital’s Rafik Hariri International Airport banned all commercial and private flights on March 18

DUBAI: Lebanon plans to reopen its airport to the public on June 21 amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to local media reports citing the Public Works Minister Michel Najjar.
“The airport will not open on June 8 but it is expected [to open] starting June 21,” Najjar said.
The statement was made after the Lebanese Health Minister Hamad Hasan said the reopening of the airport can happen if the country witnesses a two-week stable decline of coronavirus cases.
“As long as the world is suffering from an international pandemic, the airport needs special arrangements regarding its reopening, mainly related to the number of infections that will come through,” he said.
The capital’s Rafik Hariri International Airport banned all commercial and private flights on March 18 to help contain the coronavirus spread in the country.


French FM urges Iraq to keep away from regional tensions

Updated 7 min 26 sec ago

French FM urges Iraq to keep away from regional tensions

  • Baghdad “should dissociate itself from regional tensions,” Le Drian warned after meeting with his Iraqi counterpart
  • The world should not drop its guard against Daesh, Le Drian said

BAGHDAD: French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian urged Baghdad on Thursday to “dissociate” itself from boiling regional tensions, hinting at dissatisfaction with unilateral Iranian and American strikes on Iraqi territory.
Iraq has been caught for years in the power struggle between its two main allies Washington and Tehran, but has had to walk an increasingly fine line since 2018, when the US began a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran.
In January, a US drone strike on Baghdad killed top Iranian and Iraqi officials, and Tehran retaliated with strikes against American troops based in western Iraq.
Baghdad “should dissociate itself from regional tensions,” Le Drian warned after meeting with his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein.
France has been a top member of the US-led coalition fighting Daesh, which Iraq declared defeated in late 2017 after three years of warfare.
“The world should not drop its guard against the Islamic State group,” Le Drian said.
“The coalition’s aim at its core is to fight IS, and it should for no reason be derailed from this central mission,” he added.
His comments appeared to hint at widespread frustration among Western diplomats at Washington’s unilateral strikes against Iran-backed armed groups in Iraq.
They fear that these attacks would prompt a backlash against the coalition as a whole, not just US soldiers.
Following the US killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis in January, Iraq’s parliament voted to oust all foreign troops.
Le Drian is the first Western diplomat to visit Baghdad since Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi took office in May, although he has traveled to Iraq on many occasions.
He is also expected to meet Al-Kadhimi and Iraqi President Barham Saleh on his one-day visit.
He said France “backed (Al-Kadhimi’s) first decisions,” including efforts to fight government corruption and rein in rogue groups firing rockets at foreign troops and diplomats.
France would also facilitate $1.1 billion for “major projects in construction, transportation, energy and water,” Le Drian announced.
Iraq’s public infrastructure has been worn down by years of warfare and poor investment, but low oil prices have forced it to cut state spending on improving services.