Beirut explosion: Trump to participate in conference call about Lebanon on Sunday

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US President Donald Trump said Friday that he would participate in the international aid conference organized by France after the deadly Beirut explosions.

"We will have a conference call on Sunday" with French President Emmanuel Macron, Lebanese officials and "many others" who want to help, Trump said.

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Speaking at a news conference in New Jersey, Trump said he told his Lebanese counterpart Michel Aoun in a phone call that three aircraft filled with emergency supplies, food and water were on their way.

Trump offered his condolences and said that Washington would stand by Lebanon and the Lebanese people after the "horrible, horrible event."

The US, with authorities on the ground in Lebanon, are working to identify health and human needs and we will provide further assistance in the period to come," Trump said.

Earlier Friday, Trump tweeted that he had a “lengthy” discussion with Macron, “in particular [about] the catastrophic event which took place in Beirut, Lebanon.”

First responders, technicians, doctors and nurses are on their way to Lebanon, Trump added. “Everyone wants to help!”

On Thursday, Macron visited the Lebanese capital and walked through the destroyed streets and buildings. He said he would organize an international aid conference to garner immediate assistance for the Lebanese people. Macron promised that aid would not go to "corrupt hands," as hundreds of protesters called for him not to deal with the Lebanese government.

The Lebanese political elite has long been seen as corrupt with the state unable to provide basic services and needs to the Lebanese citizens.

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The US Agency for International Development (USAID) on Friday said it would provide more than $15 million in assistance, including food aid for 50,00 people for three months. It said it had also asked the US military to transport enough medical supplies and pharmaceuticals to support up to 60,000 people for three months.

Senior officials from across the Trump administration have been meeting to hammer out additional assistance, a senior administration source said, adding continued concern about the underlying governance issues plaguing Lebanon.

US agencies are considering both the possibility that it was a total accident and the possibility that it was somehow deliberately triggered, intelligence sources said.

Separately, 87 members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “urging” him to consider additional support to address the humanitarian disaster in Lebanon.

- With AP

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