Skip to content Skip to Search
Skip navigation

US official says Lebanon has ‘no other way out’ than IMF deal

People, Person, Adult REUTERS/Emilie Madi
Retired Lebanese army officer holds Lebanese pound banknotes during a protest over the deteriorating economic situation in Beirut, Lebanon March 30, 2023

Lebanon has no alternative for economic recovery but to make progress on a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a senior US official said on Thursday.

US assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs Barbara Leaf visited Lebanon, which is suffering one of the world’s worst financial meltdowns, according to the World Bank, on a regional trip earlier this month.

Beirut signed a staff-level agreement with the IMF in April 2022 but its progress towards financial reforms required to unlock $3 billion in funding has been “very slow”, according to the lender of last resort.

Leaf said in an online briefing she had urged Lebanese officials to make progress on the full deal and to end a months-long vacuum in the presidency.

“Helping the Lebanese people remains a priority for us as we urge Lebanese leaders to adopt a sense of urgency that they clearly have lacked,” she said. “The IMF package is a lifeline. There’s just no other way out.”

Leaf said she hoped the recent rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran could have “a calming and beneficial effect for Lebanon, as well as other countries across the region”.

Saudi Arabia is also seeking to re-establish ties with Syria after more than a decade of isolation.