No bailout for Lebanon until reforms are implemented: US official

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The United States will not help Lebanon with a bailout until the country’s leadership stops ignoring popular demands, a senior US official said Wednesday, weeks after a deadly explosion at the Port of Beirut killed hundreds and injured thousands.

“That era is over. There is no more money for that,” US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale told reporters on Wednesday.

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Hale, who recently returned from a visit to Beirut, said that Lebanon had hit “rock bottom” and blasted the ruling elite for using “the system in order to enrich themselves.”

Hale said the reforms needed for Lebanon to climb out of the current economic and financial crisis were “contrary to the interests” of the ruling elite in the country, including Hezbollah.

And if the Lebanese leadership does not change or implement the necessary reforms, Hale said he was convinced that the public would “increase the pressure on them.”

The US diplomat said the changes needed could not be made “from the outside [of Lebanon],” but “Lebanese leaders have to exercise the political will” to do so.

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