Kerry's Deputy Meets Lebanese Leaders: Hizbullah Actions in Syria Bad for People of Syria, Lebanonإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Monday that “Hizbullah's actions” in Syria are “bad for the people of Syria and Lebanon,” as he noted that “those blocking” the presidential vote “should be held to public account.”
“The Prime Minister and I reviewed developments in the region, including the agreement between the P5+1 and Iran on the elements of a comprehensive plan to deal with Iran’s nuclear program that were decided last week in Lausanne, as well as the conflicts in Syria and Yemen and the future of Middle East peace,” said Blinken after meeting PM Tammam Salam in Msaitbeh.
He described Lebanon as a “strong partner” in the anti-terror efforts in the region.
“That is why we have increased and expedited our assistance to Lebanon,” he said.
Blinken warned that “Hizbullah’s support for (Syrian President Bashar) Assad -- indeed the lifeline it provides -- serves only to prolong the conflict and suffering, provides Daesh with a recruitment tool, and causes more refugees to flee to Lebanon.”
“Hizbullah’s actions in Syria are bad for the people of Syria and Lebanon,” he added.
Turning to Lebanon's presidential vacuum, the U.S. official said “to tackle the many challenges confronting the region today, Lebanon needs every part of its government functioning effectively.”
“It cannot face these historic challenges with an empty chair. Electing a president will not solve all of these problems, but it will be a critical step in the right direction,” he underlined.
The senior U.S. diplomat urged Lebanon’s leaders “not to look outside of their country” for a resolution to the presidential gridlock, calling on them to “find a solution from within.”
“Responsible voices in the international community will support you. But unless and until a president is chosen, the erosion of Lebanon’s political institutions will only deepen,” he added.
“We once again call on Lebanon’s parliament to elect a president as soon as possible, in accordance with the Constitution and the National Pact,” said Blinken.
He pointed out, however, that the election of a president is “a decision entirely for the Lebanese to take.”
“They must take it and those blocking formation of a parliamentary quorum should be held to public account,” Blinken added.
Earlier on Monday, Blinken met with Speaker Nabih Berri and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, with whom he discussed the issues of terrorism, foreign fighters and ways to combat terror.
Discussions also focused on the Iranian nuclear file and the repercussions of the deal signed last week between world powers and Iran.
A day earlier, the visiting U.S. official held talks with Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat.
The meeting was attended by several ministers representing the PSP in Salam's cabinet, lawmakers from Jumblat's parliamentary bloc and former MP Ghattas Khoury, who is al-Mustaqbal movement leader Saad Hariri's adviser.
Jumblat later threw a dinner banquet in Blinken's honor.
The meeting between the visiting U.S. official and the Lebanese politicians was an occasion to discuss several international issues, including the nuclear deal, Hamadeh told Voice of Lebanon radio (100.5).
The talks also focused on the situation in Lebanon amid the vacuum at the Baabda Palace.
Lebanon has been without a head of state since President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended in May last year.
Blinken told MTV that the U.S. will continue to support Lebanon and the Lebanese to enable the country to confront the burden of Syrian refugees.
He hoped that the agreement on Iran's nukes would stop the Islamic Republic from backing “terrorist” organizations.
Blinken will visit Saudi Arabia after his Beirut trip, said Hamadeh.