Canada offers interest in Beirut port explosion probe

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Canada has offered to join Lebanon’s investigation into the massive Beirut port explosion.

While disclosing this on Thursday, the visiting Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said the move was to ensure the probe is credible and transparent.

Lebanese President, Michel Aoun, who promised a swift investigation into the causes of the explosion, later said the process would take time.

The Canadian Foreign Minister said after meeting Aoun at Baabda Palace that Ottawa was ready to assist under conditions that would be defined.

“The Lebanese people expect that if Canada participates in this investigation it is because it is going to be credible, transparent and get to the bottom of things to get justice,” he said in televised remarks.

Champagne told reporters that he discussed with the outgoing defense minister an “understanding on the conditions that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will participate in the investigation.”

“This blast is the tragedy of all tragedies. It embodies all the tragedies that we have seen in decades in Lebanon,” Champagne said.

“Impunity needs to cease, reforms need to take place and I would say leaders need to listen,” he added.

The Lebanese presidency on Thursday quoted Aoun as telling French magazine Paris Match that 25 people “directly or indirectly involved with the port” had so far been detained under the investigation.

“It would be transparent and hold to account “all those negligent without exception,” he said.

Beirut has said France and the FBI are helping investigate the explosion that wrecked the port and swathes of the city, compounding an economic meltdown.

Champagne, like other Western officials, said Lebanon must form a government that can implement long-demanded reforms to unlock foreign financial assistance.

“Everyone understands that the international aid must be accompanied by serious reforms,” Champagne said.

The caretaker government of Prime Minister Hassan Diab that took office in January resigned over the blast.

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