| 16 May 2021, Sunday | النسخة العربية

Diplomatic source to SBI: This is Hale’s agenda in Beirut.

US Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale’s visit to Lebanon tomorrow, Wednesday, represents the first contact from the new US administration headed by Joe Biden on the level of dispatching envoys to Lebanon. Where he will express the administration’s stance  on the current Lebanese situation, and its reading of the dangerous developments that Lebanon may turn towards if the obstacles to forming the government continue within the framework of the rescue path set by the French initiative, until reforms are achieved, so that the international community can help Lebanon.

Despite the administration’s preoccupation with indirect negotiations with Iran, managing the foreign ministry offices, and preparing for the elaboration of its policy towards the region and Lebanon, this did not prevent it, according to diplomatic sources in the American capital, Washington, from following up the most critical files. Like the Lebanese file. Therefore, the administration dispatched Hale to closely survey the situation, draw up a report on the outcome of his visit to Beirut, and the meetings that he will hold, and submit it to the administration.

The sources confirm, that Hale is about to end his term after the appointment of Victoria Nuland as his successor, and she takes over her mission awaiting confirmation in the Senate. But for the American administration,ruling is a continuity. Thus, what Hale will reach in his talks, and the report that he will submit, will be worked on by his successor upon assuming the position, noting that Hale will move to another diplomatic position.

And what will help in crystallizing the American policy towards Lebanon after the administration has appointed to succeed David Schenker, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Mrs. Victoria Coates, who was appointed to the Central Security Council, but who will move to the Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs position that was held by Schenker. And this appointment constitutes an essential and decisive step in evaluating the policy towards Lebanon and re-endorsing it in the manner that the Biden administration wants, after studying the Lebanon file in a detailed and comprehensive manner.

Hale’s visit is based on a number of constants, which, according to the sources, are the following:

– The formation of a reformist government to assume the transfer of the country to rescue, and to form a government of competencies

– How to deliver humanitarian aid, provided that the stage of reconstruction assistance comes after the formation of the government through  “Sedr Conference”, where Lebanon must abide by its obligations.

– Hale’s position will abide by the joint statements of his country’s foreign ministers, Anthony Blinken, and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, on Lebanon.

Hale will affirm his country’s commitment to support stability, continue to support the Lebanese army, implement Resolution 1701, and complete negotiations on demarcating the maritime borders with Israel. And he will explore the outcome of developments regarding the northern maritime border with Syria.

And on the impact of the visit, political forces demanded to expedite the signing of the amendment to Decree 6433 of 2011 in order for Lebanon to annul an error in calculating the area in Block No. 9. They considered that not signing will be a great service to Israel. In other words, if the amendment is not done so that there is a disputed area, Israel will start the drilling process. And the disputed area is not excavated.
According to the sources, Hale and his administration staff will not influence in any way on the course of sanctions the Europeans will impose on Lebanese officials who obstruct the formation of the government. Rather, Washington’s stance will be supportive of the European position, because coordination continues between the two parties on Lebanon.