Pompeo Says Up to Lebanon to Talk to Assad on Refugees, Sanctions Won't Harm Economy

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced that Washington does not want to harm the Lebanese economy with its new sanctions on Hizbullah, as he noted that it is up to the Lebanese to coordinate with Damascus on the thorny issue of returning refugees.

Describing Iran-backed Hizbullah as “so dangerous,” Pompeo described the group as “a threat that is posed to all these people (in Lebanon), Christians and Muslims.”

“We want our good partners in Lebanon to understand that we’re with them in this battle,” Pompeo said in an interview with Lebanon’s MTV.

Asked whether the new U.S. sanctions might hurt the Lebanese economy, Pompeo said: “We don’t want that.”

“A thriving Lebanon economy is good for… peace and stability,” he emphasized.

As for his meetings with Lebanese leaders, Pompeo said: “I believe that they all understand the importance of keeping the political power out of the hands of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Pompeo also denied reports that he was not “happy” after his talks with Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil.

“We had a fine meeting,” the U.S. official said, describing the talks as “frank” and “candid.”

“Each of the meetings I had yesterday was constructive and productive,” he went on to say.

Asked whether President Michel Aoun should talk to his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad about the issue of refugees, Pompeo said “it’s a decision for the Lebanese leaders to make.”

SourceNaharnet
Comments 4
Thumb canadianleb 24 March 2019, 14:55

"as he noted that it is up to the Lebanese to coordinate with Damascus on the thorny issue of returning refugees. Also "Asked whether President Michel Aoun should talk to his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad about the issue of refugees, Pompeo said “it’s a decision for the Lebanese leaders to make.”
Interesting so the Americans have left it up to the Lebanese to talk to Assad, which makes the Syrian Government is a legitimate government in the eyes of the Americans...

Thumb natour 24 March 2019, 16:15

Not really. The Syrian Government is still not a legitimate government in the eyes of the Americans, they say this every day. What Pompeo's saying is that it's up to Lebanon to talk to Assad on refugees.

Thumb canadianleb 24 March 2019, 17:21

Agreed. So why when the Lebanese Government wants to talk to the Syrian Government everybody gets upset. At the end of the day a solution needs to be found for the refugees and in order to do so everybody needs to get their heads out of the sand and come together for a solution that will ensure the safety of the Syrians returning and the stability of Lebanon. So talking is the first step and should be without any preconditions.

Thumb natour 24 March 2019, 19:09

It's not the Lebanese Government that wants to talk to the Syrian one, it's some ministers unilaterally. The diplomatic channels have never been closed and they are enough to work out the return of the refugees. But the Syrians keep refusing and stalling. Gen Ibrahim tried and failed, Hezbollah put up a "mechanism" that also failed. Then there's the Russian plan that failed because the Syrians are refusing to set up safe areas for the refugees, and that's according to the Russians themselves. The Syrian government is the one putting up preconditions, normalization or else. The refugees are Syrians and it's the Syrians' responsibility to take them back rather than put up obstacles. You call yourself canadianleb, if you want to return to Lebanon and the Lebanese government for whatever reason decide not to allow you back, what can the Canadian government do? Moreover there's that Syrian arrest warrant for Hariri, the Lebanese PM and head of our government, did you forget about that?