Members of US Congress in Lebanon after crippling economic crisis
A group of members of the US Congress held meetings on Saturday with key Lebanese leaders during a fact-finding mission to the Middle Eastern country beset by an unprecedented economic crisis.
The delegation is to report to President Joe Biden and Congress and suggest ways to help the Lebanese. The country’s new government, in place since September, has struggled to launch reforms and negotiations with the International Monetary Fund.
The US team includes Representative Darrell Issa, a Republican from California, as well as Republican Representative Darin LaHood from Illinois, as well as Edward Gabriel, head of the Washington-based US Task Force for Lebanon. The three, who arrived on Friday and are due to spend three days in Lebanon, first met with President Michel Aoun.
The Lebanese crisis is rooted in decades of corruption and mismanagement. The international community has said it will only help the small nation once it implements sweeping reforms and tackles widespread corruption.
Gabriel told local Al-Jadeed television that members of Congress were in town “to see firsthand” what was happening in Lebanon and that he hoped they would “come up with new ideas” on how the United States could help the Lebanese.
The delegation then met with Prime Minister Najib Mikati who thanked the United States for its support in Lebanon and for its continued support to the Lebanese Armed Forces, his office said.
Lebanon’s economic crisis began in late 2019 and was compounded by political feuds between rival groups that failed to initiate reforms despite the crisis plunging three quarters of the country’s 6 million people. , including a million Syrian refugees, in poverty.