US calls for end to endemic corruption that has stifled Lebanon: David Hale

US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale and U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea visit the site of a massive explosion at Beirut's port. (Reuters)

The US is calling for an end to the endemic corruption that has stifled Lebanon’s tremendous potential and describes the Beirut blast as a moment of truth for the country, according to US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale.

“Over the past 24 hours, I have listened to a range of perspectives – elected leaders and party officials, but also civil society, youth, and clergy. The popular demand for real change could not be clearer. This is a moment of truth for Lebanon,” Hale said in a televised address.

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US envoy David Hale called on Saturday for a “transparent and credible” probe into the monster blast at Beirut’s port, as FBI investigators headed for Lebanon.

A huge stock of hazardous material abandoned in a warehouse at the port in the heart of the capital exploded on August 4, killing 177 people and devastating swathes of Beirut.

Volunteers hold up placards against Lebanese politicians, as they protest during the visit of U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale to the main gathering point for NGO volunteers, near the site of last week's explosion. (AP)

Volunteers hold up placards against Lebanese politicians, as they protest during the visit of U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale to the main gathering point for NGO volunteers, near the site of last week's explosion. (AP)

Hale said the US has already provided $18 million worth of much-needed food, medicine, and other essential relief and is currently working with Congress to pledge up to $30 million in additional funds to enable the flow of grain through Beirut port.

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FBI personnel are expected to join other international experts already on the ground, including from France which has launched its own probe.

“In the aftermath of this tragedy, we, like so many others, expect a credible and transparent investigation of the circumstances that led up to the explosion. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation will soon be here to help. In some ways, this tragic event was just a symptom of much deeper ails in Lebanon, ails which have gone on for far too long, and for which nearly everyone in authority bears a measure of responsibility. I’m talking about the decades of mismanagement, corruption, and the repeated failure of Lebanese leaders to undertake meaningful, sustained reforms,” Hale said.

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Last Update: Sunday, 16 August 2020 KSA 07:55 - GMT 04:55
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