Geagea says Hezbollah, Amal demands strike core of French initiative

French President calls Lebanese counterpart to discuss need to press on with efforts to form new government.

BEIRUT - Lebanese Christian opposition politician Samir Geagea said on Friday demands by the Shiite groups Hezbollah and Amal to name the finance minister in a new government had struck at the core of a French initiative to lift Lebanon out of deep crisis.

Lebanon's main Shiite Muslim factions, Iran-backed Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, have demanded that they name Shiite ministers, including the finance minister.

Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib said on Thursday he would give more time for talks on forming a new government after faltering efforts so far have raised doubts about prospects for the French initiative.

French President Emmanuel Macron called Lebanon's president on Friday to discuss the need to press on with efforts to form a new government, seeking to give new momentum to an initiative by Paris that aims to pull the Middle East nation out of crisis.

France has been leaning on Lebanon's sectarian politicians to name a cabinet swiftly and embark on reforms to get the country out of the worst crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.

President Michel Aoun, a Christian under Lebanon's sectarian system of power sharing, received a phone call from Macron "dealing with the government situation and the necessity to continue efforts to secure the creation of the government as soon as possible," the Lebanese presidency said.

A September 15 deadline agreed between Lebanese politicians and Paris for forming the new government has already been missed.