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Hale Calls for Credible Probe into Beirut Blast

Hale Calls for Credible Probe into Beirut Blast

Saturday, 15 August, 2020 - 10:00
US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale visits the main NGOs gathering point near the scene of the last week's explosion that hit the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon August 13, 2020. Hussein Malla/Pool via REUTERS

Visiting US Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale called on Saturday for a "thorough, transparent and credible" investigation into the August 4 Beirut port blast which killed 172 people and wounded 6,000.

"We can never go back to an era in which anything goes at the port or the borders of Lebanon that had to contribute to this situation," Hale said during a visit to the destroyed port.

Hale, who arrived in Beirut on Thursday, made his first stop in Gemmayze, one of the impacted neighborhoods in Beirut, where he revealed the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will join investigators in the probe into the port blast.

The team of FBI investigators is due to arrive in Lebanon this weekend, he said Saturday after he toured the site of the blast with Lebanese army officers.

The explosion has been blamed on a vast stock of ammonium nitrate left in a warehouse at the port for years despite repeated warnings.

It is still not known what caused the fire responsible for igniting nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate. But documents have emerged that show the country’s top leadership and security officials were aware of the stockpile. French investigators are also taking part in the probe.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced his government's resignation on Monday but it remains to be seen whether new faces are brought in or members of Lebanon's entrenched ruling class are brought back.

"For the longer run, we cannot accept more empty promises and more dysfunctional governance," said Hale on Friday after meeting Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai.

"America is ready to support a Lebanese government that reflects and responds to the will of the people and genuinely commits to and acts for real change."

Hale also met with President Michel Aoun, insisting that the new government should reflect the will of the people and implement reform.

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