The United States stressed on Tuesday that it will “continue to work with Lebanon for peace and prosperity.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
“We discussed the need for a timely presidential election and the urgency to implement reforms to support the people of Lebanon,” Blinken tweeted on Wednesday.
Ahead of the meeting, Blinken told the press in New York: “We are working very closely in support of Lebanon in a number of ways, particularly working through the incredibly challenging economic issues, and very much supportive of Lebanon moving forward in dealing with these challenges, including with the IMF.”
“At the same time, I think it's quite extraordinary that we see even as Lebanon is dealing with these acute challenges the incredible generosity of the country, particularly in giving refuge to so many people from conflict, I think the highest number of refugees per capita of any country in the world – something we greatly admire and also are trying to find ways to help you continue to support,” he added, according to the US embassy in Lebanon.
For his part, Mikati expressed his gratitude to the support extended by the American admiration to his country.
On Monday, the Lebanese Defense Ministry revealed that the UN is finalizing a plan to provide US-funded salary assistance to Lebanese soldiers hard hit by the country's financial crisis.
UN Special Coordinator Joanna Wronecka told caretaker Defense Minister Maurice Slim that US assistance for the salaries of soldiers “is in its final organizational stages and will be paid to soldiers via a United Nations program”.
Discontent has been brewing in the security forces as Lebanon's currency has lost more than 90% of its value against the dollar, driving down most soldiers' wages to less than $100 per month. Many have taken extra jobs, and thousands have quit.