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US urges new Lebanese government to make 'tangible' reforms

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Washington (AFP)

The United States called Wednesday on Lebanon's new government to enact serious reforms to tackle the twin challenges of a collapsing economy and angry street protests.

"The test of Lebanon's new government will be its actions and its responsiveness to the demands of the Lebanese people to implement reforms and to fight corruption," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

"Only a government that is capable of and committed to undertaking real and tangible reforms will restore investor confidence and unlock international assistance for Lebanon," he added.

Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab said Wednesday his country faces a "catastrophe" after his newly unveiled cabinet held its first meeting.

Anger at what protesters see as a kleptocratic oligarchy was initially fuelled by youth unemployment that stands at more than 30 percent and the abysmal delivery of public services such as water and electricity.

The long-brewing discontent was compounded by fears of a total economic collapse in recent weeks, with a liquidity crunch pushing banks to impose crippling capital controls.

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