On the first day of his visit to Beirut, US Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale advised Lebanese politicians to speed up the formation of a new government, warning that continued stalling would further drag the country into total collapse, well-informed Lebanese sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.
According to the sources, the message that Hale would deliver to President Michel Aoun during their meeting this Thursday would go beyond a mere call to form the government to directly hold the president responsible for the ongoing obstruction.
Hale would be implicitly hinting at the negative role assumed by Aoun’s political heir and son-in-law - the head of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) Gebran Bassil – in putting obstacles to the birth of the new government.
The same sources confirmed that Hale asked about the reasons behind the stalled resumption of negotiations between Lebanon and Israel on the demarcation of the maritime borders under the auspices of the United Nations and with American mediation.
They noted that Speaker Nabih Berri has informed the US official that he put the framework agreement for the negotiations without defining the disputed maritime areas, leaving the negotiation task to the Lebanese delegation.
According to the sources, Berri emphasized that he has been supporting the formation of the new government since eight months and proposed an initiative to the impasse, adding that Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri has shown utmost flexibility.
In this context, Hale stressed that one of the conditions for the international community to help Lebanon was that the concerned parties take the initiative to help themselves and be able to respond to the demands of the Lebanese people, the political sources underlined.
They quoted the US official as saying that Lebanon would not be able to move immediately from total collapse to recovery, and benefit from international support unless the government was formed as quickly as possible.
Accordingly, the sources believe that Hale issued the last warning for Lebanon’s politicians to form a government before it was too late.