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Pompeo Dispatches David Hale to Beirut

Pompeo Dispatches David Hale to Beirut

Friday, 13 December, 2019 - 07:15
An NNA file photo of Hale meeting with Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Beirut last January

US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale is expected to visit Beirut this month as Lebanon suffers a deep political and economic crisis, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Hale’s trip would be the first diplomatic move made by President Donald Trump’s administration towards Beirut since the start of massive anti-government demonstrations on October 17.

The US official’s planned visit comes after a meeting of the International Group in Support (ISG) of Lebanon held in Paris on Wednesday.

US Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker, who represented Washington at the IGS meeting, has informed the US administration about the dangerous levels that Lebanon’s political, economic, social and financial conditions have reached.

The US has openly supported Lebanon’s unprecedented cross-sectarian protests denouncing government mismanagement and corruption.

The diplomatic sources said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been closely monitoring the situation in Lebanon since his last trip to Beirut in April.

Another diplomatic source told the newspaper that Washington will neither provide financial assistance nor liquidity in US dollars that is much required in the Lebanese market.

“However, the US can speak with a number of donor countries and organizations, mainly the International Monetary Fund,” the source added.

Hale’s visit to Beirut also comes as Lebanon prepares to hold biding parliamentary consultations to name a new premier tasked with forming a government.

This month, Trump’s administration lifted a mysterious “hold” on more than $100 million in security aid for Lebanon, more than a month after lawmakers learned the funds were being blocked.

Hale said during previous congressional testimonies that there had been some disagreements about the efficacy of US aid to the Lebanese army.

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