U.S. imposes sanctions on Hezbollah-linked businessmen in Lebanon

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WASHINGTON, Jan 18 (Reuters) - The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on three businessmen with ties to Hezbollah, saying their activity as financial facilitators for the Iran-backed group was exploiting Lebanon's economic resources at a time of crisis for that country.

The Treasury Department has added Adel Diab, Ali Mohamad Daoun, Jihad Salem Alame, and their company Dar Al Salam for Travel & Tourism, to its sanctions list, the department said in a statement.

"Through businessmen like those designated today, Hezbollah gains access to material and financial support through the legitimate commercial sector to fund its acts of terrorism and attempts to destabilize Lebanon's political institutions," the Treasury said in the statement.

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Lebanon's economy has been in crisis since 2019 when it collapsed under a mountain of debt. Its currency plunged to a new low last week, and swaths of the nation have been driven into poverty.

Lebanon's Cabinet will hold its first meeting in three months next week, local media reported on Monday, after Hezbollah and another group, Amal, ended their boycott of the Cabinet over the weekend. read more

The two groups, which back several ministers, had been boycotting the Cabinet in a dispute over the conduct of an investigation into a huge explosion at Beirut's port in 2020.

The Treasury said Tuesday's action requires all property owned by the three men and their business that is in the United States to be blocked and reported to the department, and that all transactions related to the property by U.S. citizens be prohibited.

"The U.S. stands in solidarity with the Lebanese people, whose security and sovereignty remains threatened by Hizballah's corrupt and destabilizing activities," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a tweet following the announcement, using an alternative spelling for the group.

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Reporting by Chris Gallagher; Editing by Tim Ahmann, Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis

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