U.K. Ambassador to Lebanon Hugo Shorter speaks during an interview with The Daily Star in Beirut, Monday, March 12, 2018. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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The diplomat said that, especially because Lebanon is his first ambassadorial posting, the parting to return to London will not be easy.Shorter had his fair share of Lebanese politics to unpack, spending the first year of his appointment as ambassador-designate during Lebanon's 29-month presidential vacancy, which ended with President Michel Aoun's election in October 2016 . Add to that Lebanon's place in shifting regional politics and conflicts, as Hezbollah's role potentially pulls the country in a direction that is, in Shorter's words, "worrying". Now, as he is about to depart, Lebanon is again embroiled in political stalemates as Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri struggles to form a government. While underscoring the importance of government formation to implementing economic changes, Shorter also noted concern over Hezbollah's influence in politics and security in the region, and the resulting implications for Lebanon's sovereignty and insulation from regional conflicts.Despite this concern, Shorter said the U.K. has not wavered in its commitments to Lebanon.Lebanon came away with over $11 billion in pledges from CEDRE – though the pledges hinge on economic reforms, which are being delayed by the drawn-out Cabinet deadlock.
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