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Under Secretary David Hale’s Statement from the Port of Beirut
August 15, 2020

Good morning. Ambassador Shea and I just had a brief tour of the port. I thought it was important to see first-hand just the devastation that occurred last week here. Seeing it on television is one thing, seeing it up close is another; it is really overwhelming. I didn’t want to take much too much time from the precious time of the officers and the others here, who are continuing their work on search and rescue and clearing this site in such a way that, of course, preserves the ability for investigators to proceed. And it’s also impressive that this is an international effort. There are many different countries that have contributed teams here to do the search and rescue. Now, for the United States, as I said the other day, the FBI is arriving this weekend, and they will be playing their role at the invitation of the Lebanese in order to make sure that all the answer that the Lebanese people—and all of us—have about what exactly happened, what led to the circumstances of this explosion. We really need to make sure that there is a thorough and a transparent, credible investigation. I know that is what everyone is demanding.

I’ll also say that, just looking at this, just stepping back from whatever happened specifically related to this explosion, is that we can never go back to an era in which anything goes at the ports and the borders of Lebanon. That had to contribute to this situation and I think it is very important and the Lebanese people will have to determine how best to do that. But every state, every sovereign state, controls its ports and its borders thoroughly and I imagine that all Lebanese would like to return to that era and not have the ‘anything goes’ atmosphere that we’ve seen in the recent years.

Thank you.