Bassil: U.S. Asking for Things We Can't Do, Syrian Returnees Not Persecuted
Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil announced Monday that the U.S. is asking Lebanon to carry out things that are not in its capacity, as he denied reports that Syrians returning home from Lebanon are being “tortured and persecuted.”
“The Americans are asking us for things that we cannot carry out and do not agree to,” Bassil said in an interview in Moscow with RT television.
The minister is accompanying President Michel Aoun on his first official visit to Russia.
“Nothing prevents the Lebanese parties from dealing with Hizbullah, seeing as it is a Lebanese component, and Washington’s laws are its own concern,” Bassil added, referring to the United States’ designation of Hizbullah as a terrorist group.
“The Americans are offering unconditional aid and we will reject any conditional aid, seeing as any attempt to link aid to an effort to naturalize displaced people or refugees is rejected,” Bassil went on to say.
As for the repatriation of Syrian refugees to their country, the minister said “any talk of torture and persecution against the Syrian returnees is aimed at preventing their return.”
“I have asked the foreign ministers of world powers to provide us with information” in this regard, he added.
Bassil also warned that the naturalization of Palestinian refugees would be “a crime against Lebanon, Palestine and the region,” noting that “we are capable of defeating this scheme.”
“Israel does not respect international laws and the U.S. is supporting it despite of that,” Bassil lamented.
He also emphasized that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “cannot defeat Lebanon even if he uses his entire military arsenal.”
As for the purchase of weapons for the Lebanese Army from Russia, Bassil said Lebanon will not reject “unconditional” aid from Moscow.
“We are confident that Russia will not ask Lebanon to do something that would harm its interest,” he added.
“We want strategic ties with Russia and I reiterate the call for the rise of an alliance between American and Russian firms in the issue of gas” in Lebanon, Bassil went on to say.
The foreign minister and Free Patriotic Movement chief also emphasized that Lebanon is “the country of balances and the presence of domestic and external balances is in its interest.”
“We are people who build bridges and we cannot discriminate between the components of our people,” he added.