Senior US State Department official to visit Beirut

Washington (AFP) –


The US State Department announced Monday it will send a senior official to voice the administration's "concern" over the worsening social and political situation in Lebanon.

Under-secretary for political affairs David Hale, the third-highest ranking State Department official, will travel to Beirut from April 13-15, the department said in a statement.

"He will underscore America's concerns with the worsening socio-economic conditions throughout the country and the political impasse that is contributing to the deteriorating situation," the statement said.

Lebanon is in the midst of its worst financial crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.

Endless political deadlock, as well as alleged corruption and negligence, have given way to the financial slump now sounding a death knell for a fragile middle class.

Since 2019, the Lebanese pound has lost more than 85 percent of its value against the dollar on the black market, and prices have soared.

Yet authorities have done little to stem a crisis compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 6,700 people, and by last year's port blast that cost more than 200 lives and ravaged swathes of Beirut.

"Under Secretary Hale will press Lebanese officials and party leaders to come together and form a government capable of and committed to implementing economic and governance reforms," the department statement said.