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Under Secretary Hale Media Brief on Meetings and Discussions
August 14, 2020

Good evening, I just had the honor of a meeting with Patriarch Rai in which I extended the condolences from the American people and the American government to the Lebanese people and to the Patriarch for the losses from the explosion last week.

We discussed that and the need for immediate humanitarian support to meet the needs of the Lebanese but also discussed the current state of affairs in Lebanon and as well in the region and the need for all of us to improve security and stability here.

I also met during the course of the day with many Lebanese leaders, with President Aoun, with caretaker Prime Minister Diab, with the President of the National Assembly Berri and other political leaders and we discussed the aftermath of the explosion and I emphasized the urgent need that I’m hearing from the Lebanese people that their demands be met by undertaking a widespread and broad reform agenda.

I’ll have a more comprehensive statement to make tomorrow when I conclude my meetings but it is clear already from my day today 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, things like establishing state control over the ports and borders, revamping the electricity network, and reexamining the social safety network.

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 to address the urgent needs.

But for the longer run, we cannot accept more empty promises and more dysfunctional governance.  I hear demands for real reform with transparency and accountability.  America is ready to support a Lebanese government that reflects and responds to the will of the people and genuinely commits to and acts for real change.

I look forward tomorrow to continuing to listen to a broad array of Lebanese society, including civil society, activists, and youth to hear all perspectives on the situation and all ideas to bring about the meaningful change that the Lebanese public so urgently demands.

Thank you very much.