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Pompeo on Lebanon: Only a Cabinet Committed to Reform Will Unlock Int’l Aid

Pompeo on Lebanon: Only a Cabinet Committed to Reform Will Unlock Int’l Aid

Thursday, 23 January, 2020 - 07:15
FILE PHOTO: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announces new sanctions on Iran in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, US, January 10, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The United States called Wednesday on the new government of Lebanese PM Hassan Diab to enact serious reforms to tackle the twin challenges of a collapsing economy and angry street protests.

"The test of Lebanon's new government will be its actions and its responsiveness to the demands of the Lebanese people to implement reforms and to fight corruption," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

"Only a government that is capable of and committed to undertaking real and tangible reforms will restore investor confidence and unlock international assistance for Lebanon," he added.

Diab said Wednesday his country faces a "catastrophe" after the cabinet held its first meeting.

A long-brewing discontent has been compounded by fears of a total economic collapse in recent weeks, with a liquidity crunch pushing banks to impose crippling capital controls.

On Wednesday, some protesters unhappy with the new cabinet breached a small security barricade near parliament in downtown Beirut and set on fire a tent for security forces, who responded with tear gas and water cannon.

The skirmishes extended to a nearby luxury shopping district. A civil defense worker told local media some people suffered slight injuries. Last weekend, hundreds were injured in similar clashes.

President Michel Aoun tasked the government at its first meeting on Wednesday with restoring international confidence,

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