Report: Washington Considering Ways to Help Lebanon Recover Stolen Funds
A senior U.S. State Department official confirmed in an interview with al-Arabiya net on Saturday that relations between the United States and the government of Prime Minister Hassan Diab “depend on his commitment to implement reforms and to fighting endemic corruption.”
The US official spoke on condition of anonymity about U.S. assistance for the Lebanese army and America’s willingness to interfere “financially” to prevent Lebanon from total collapse.
He said: “They (Lebanese officials) know how to introduce genuine reforms which, if implemented, will open the doors wide for international, US and EU investors in Lebanon.”
The U.S. is providing “assistance” for Lebanon but the Lebanese government has to make some “difficult decisions,” he added.
On reports that the US does not intend to interfere in Lebanon, and therefore does not support the protesters, the official said: “We have not abandoned the protesters and protected them from violence. We are in constant contact with the Lebanese army and highly praise the role of security forces in protecting demonstrators.
“The protesters must keep pressuring the government peacefully until it meets their demands. Reforms are necessary and everyone in Lebanon must seek to achieve them,” he added.
On the issue of amounts of money smuggled from Lebanon to Switzerland after the October 17 uprising, he explained that the economic crisis came as a result of policies pursued since the civil war in Lebanon and as a result of high-level thefts.
“Most of these stolen public funds are now abroad, some have suggested that the US administration contributes to returning them. We are cooperating with some international bodies to discuss the issue,” he emphasized.
On the US sanctions he said a long-list of new sanctions is being prepared.