Paris           -  French President Emmanuel Macron left Paris for Lebanon Thursday on a first visit by a world leader to Beirut after the deadly port blast, the Elysee Palace said.

Macron will seek to rally urgent aid for Lebanon but is also expected to press for overdue reform in France’s ex-colony, just two days after the blast -- blamed on an unsecured store of ammonium nitrate at the Beirut port -- killed 137 people, injured 5,000 more and destroyed entire neighbourhoods.

“For the president, it’s a matter of showing that France is there -- that is its role -- and that he believes in Lebanon,” the presidential palace said.