Friday’s meeting between US Ambassador to Beirut Dorothy Shea and Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab reflected “positive” developments in the relations between the two countries, in addition to the US readiness to assist Lebanon in various fields, mainly with the ongoing talks with the International Monitory Fund.
Diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Shea-Diab meeting was “positive,” stressing that Washington had always stood by Lebanon and its people, and “it will continue to do so.”
Grand Serail sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that there are no disputes between the two sides. This came in response to statements claiming that Lebanon is heading to the East, stressing that “Lebanon has never turned its back to the West.
"We appreciate any friendly state willing to stretch its hand to help the country.”
However, the sources denied that discussions with Shea have tackled Washington’s intention to resume its mediation role between Lebanon and Israel on border demarcation.
“The meeting surely touched on the financial and economic crisis, and the current talks between Lebanon and the IMF,” the sources noted.
On Saturday, Diab also visited the Mufti of the Lebanese Republic, Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian, at Dar Al-Fatwa.
"The visit of His Eminence the Mufti and Dar Al Fatwa has a special essence. Talks with Mufti Derian focused on the prevailing social, economic, and daily-living conditions. We rely on his Eminence's wisdom and expertise in dealing with such issues,” the PM said.
He explained that his government is undoubtedly working vigorously to ease the burdens of citizens and is providing assistance to underprivileged families.
“There are 140,000 families currently benefiting from our assistance, and we hope to reach 200,000 families, which is equivalent to more than 1.5 million Lebanese citizens. We are also providing assistance to industrial and agricultural sectors, in addition to small and medium-sized enterprises."
According to the PM, the government has recently submitted a bill to the Parliament to disburse LL500 billion to help schools overcome the difficult economic situation for the next academic year, in addition to other projects aimed at supporting the social situation, especially the food basket comprised of around 300 basic food commodities, covering more than 80- 90% of citizen's daily needs.
Asked by reporters about how he reassures citizens regarding the dollar and the daily living and political conditions, Diab said: “Undoubtedly, several factors play a role, including negotiations taking place with the IMF."
"We already kicked off talks about needed reforms and the program to be agreed upon between the IMF and Lebanon; this will play a key role in restoring confidence and opening doors for many projects including Cedre and other funds.”