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New govt is Lebanese, not U.S., decision: Trump nominee.

Summary: U.S. President Donald Trump's new nominee to serve as U.S. ambassador to Lebanon has said that the "composition" of the new Lebanese government is a "matter for the Lebanese people

BEIRUT: U.S. President Donald Trump's new nominee to serve as U.S. ambassador to Lebanon has said that the "composition" of the new Lebanese government is a "matter for the Lebanese people, not for the [Washington] to decide." "We will work with anyone who is dedicated to reform and will put the interests of the Lebanese people first," Dorothy C. Shea said during her nomination testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday.

Shea said that looked forward to working to advance U.S. interests in Lebanon and the region, if her nomination is confirmed.

In October, Trump nominated Shea, currently the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, to replace Elizabeth Richard as U.S. ambassador to Lebanon.

According to a statement released on the White House website, Shea has previously served as the deputy principal officer at the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem. She has also served at the U.S. Embassy in Tunis and at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.

She was previously director of the Office of Assistance for Asia and the Near East in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.

Shea speaks French and Arabic, according to the White House statement. Richard the current U.S. ambassador has been posted in Lebanon since 2016.

She added that working with the international community and the Lebanese people to address "its now faltering stability is at the heart of U.S. interests in the Middle East and remains critical to ensuring our success in our efforts to defeat ISIS, foster regional stability, and counter Iran's destabilizing influence in the region."

Speaking about the nationwide anti-government protests that have hit Lebanon since Oct. 17, Shea called the demonstrations "unprecedented in their truly national nature" involving all sects and socioeconomic levels.

"The United States supports the right of Lebanon's citizens to protest peacefully and has called for their continued protection," she told the Senate committee.

Shea said the end of the Syrian military occupation of Lebanon created a strategic opportunity to increase U.S. impact and dilute the influence of the axis of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.

"Our strategy has been broadly consistent: supporting constructive political voices responsive to the needs of the Lebanese people and building the capacity of Lebanese state institutions, including the Lebanese Armed Forces," she said.

As for the protesters, Shea said that their message "is loud and clear: the Lebanese people have had enough of their leaders prospering while the rest of the country struggles under crushing debt and in the absence of the most basic services, including trash removal, electricity, and clean water."

Shea said that Lebanon's political leadership had failed to act "expeditiously" to respond to calls for reform.

"Until Lebanon's political leaders embrace the need for real and lasting reform, no government can succeed. But if leaders do embrace change, we stand ready to work with the government and people to rebuild Lebanon's shattered economy," Shea vowed.

The incoming ambassador also said that the U.S. is committed to a vision of shared prosperity, regional and global security and stability, and a lasting partnership with the people of Lebanon.

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Geographic Code:7LEBA
Date:Dec 19, 2019
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