US can no longer accept empty promises, dysfunctional governance in Lebanon: Hale

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The United States can no longer accept “more empty promises and more dysfunctional governance” from Lebanese officials, a senior US diplomat said Friday.

“The path forward, of course, can only be determined by the Lebanese. America and the international community are providing humanitarian support to the Lebanese people, but for the longer run, we cannot accept more empty promises and more dysfunctional governance,” US Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale said after meeting Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai.

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Hale, who landed in Beirut Thursday, made his first stop to speak with protesters, activists, and NGOs cleaning the streets of destroyed Beirut neighborhoods.

Multiple explosions rocked the Lebanese capital on Aug. 4. Investigations are still underway, and Hale said that the FBI would join to find answers to what led to the blasts.

At least 170 people were killed and over 6,000 injured. Dozens are missing, according to Lebanese officials.

Hale said that the explosion and humanitarian support needed for the Lebanese people was discussed with Rai. The current state of affairs in Lebanon and the region “and the need for all of us to redouble our efforts to improve stability and security” were also discussed, he said.

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Earlier in the day, Hale met with Lebanon’s president, caretaker prime minister and parliament speaker. He also met with former Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Hale will meet with civil society members, activists and young Lebanese on Saturday, after which he will issue a “more comprehensive statement.”

“But it’s clear already from my meetings … that I can see a great deal of work is needed to achieve the goals and objectives that the Lebanese people have long advocated for.

“A concerted effort to root out corruption, financial and economic reforms, and a transformation of Lebanon’s institutions of things like establishing control over the ports and borders, revamping the electricity network, and reexamining the social safety network,” are all needed, Hale said.

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