A delegation of US congressmen and members of the non-profit American Task Force for Lebanon met Saturday with Lebanon’s prime minister and president.
Here’s what we know:
• Darrell Issa and Darin LaHood, Republican members of the US House of Representatives from California and Illinois, respectively, met with Mikati in the Grand Serail and Aoun in the Presidential Palace, according to statements by the premier and president’s offices.
• In his meeting, Mikati voiced his appreciation for the “US standing by Lebanon and its continuous support for the army,” adding that he stressed “Lebanon’s commitment to implementing international resolutions and maintaining security and stability.”
• A statement by the prime minister’s office added that the US politicians said they stood by Lebanon and supported “the efforts of the Lebanese government,” which has not met since Oct. 12 due to a political row over Judge Tarek Bitar’s investigation into the 2020 Beirut port explosion.
• According to Aoun’s statement, Issa and LaHood said the US Congress wants to continue to aid Lebanon’s civil and military institutions and empower Lebanon to use its natural resources, an implicit reference to possible natural gas reserves off Lebanon’s shores and US-brokered efforts to negotiate a maritime border demarcation between Lebanon and Israel.
• Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that he believes PM Najib Mikati has a “good plan” for moving Lebanon forward. Mikati’s cabinet, which has not met in over a month due to political differences, has overseen the lifting of subsidies on fuel and medicine, without enacting long-stalled efforts to develop social assistance programs.