Washington received an official apology from Lebanon on its participation in the “White House conference on efforts to counter violent extremism,” because it cannot be a “partner with Israel in confronting terrorism,” media reports said.
More than 60 countries, including 14 Arab nations and Israel, are expected to take part in the summit slated on February 18 at the White House and presided by U.S. President Barack Obama.
The White House planned the conference in light of the recent shootings in France and earlier attacks in Canada and Australia.
The meetings are expected to continue the next day where the foreign ministers will meet at the headquarters of the U.S. State Department, headed by Secretary of State John Kerry. The third day is devoted to meetings of experts and specialized committees in Washington.
Related sources said on condition of anonymity that the invitation was addressed to Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil and Interior Minister Nouhad Mashnouq, but the latter clarified that he only received an official invitation from the U.S. government to “visit Washington in March and that he was not invited to the said conference,” they told As Safir daily on Saturday.
Mashnouq also said: “Lebanon, represented by its Foreign Minister, apologized for the participation in the conference after consultations with the PM because Lebanon cannot be a partner with Israel in confronting terrorism.”
“Everybody in Lebanon knows that the Israeli policy is at the basis of the terrorist ideology and its growth in the region,” added Mashnouq.
“Lebanon has informed some Arab delegations that it does not participate in meetings involving Israel unless it is under the United Nations and affiliated international institutions' umbrella,” As Safir quoted diplomatic sources as saying.
The sources added that the Lebanese delegation in Washington, which participated in the preparatory meetings with the U.S. administration and the Arab missions, pointed out that Israel practices “violence of extremists when it occupies Arab land, killing and displacing people in Lebanon and Palestine. How can we make it our partner in the face of terrorism that resembles it?”
The sources did not rule out that “Lebanon could set some criteria for its participation, asking for the engagement of experts and members of the mission in Washington in the meetings held at the sidelines of the summit on condition that Israel does not participate.
The sources added that the “discussions should have a clear goal away from any confusion aiming at fighting terrorism posed by the IS and al-Nusra Front against all humanity.”
The IS state controls several regions in Syria and Iraq and aims to spread to the country as its fighters position in the outskirts of Bekaa towns bordering Syria and the Lebanese army is in adamant efforts to stop their efforts to infiltrate Lebanon.
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