Beirut should ‘reject options dictated from abroad,’ says US envoy

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield speaks during his meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, in Beirut, Lebanon, on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. (AP)
Updated 05 March 2019
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Beirut should ‘reject options dictated from abroad,’ says US envoy

  • Satterfield’s visit to Lebanon is expected to pave the way for US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

BEIRUT: US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield said in Beirut that Lebanon should reject “options dictated from abroad,” stressing that the “US will do everything in its power to support Lebanon’s national options.”

Satterfield, who had been assigned the territorial and naval border dispute file between Lebanon and Israel on the Blue Line and in the exclusive economic zone, arrived in Beirut on Monday evening to brief the Lebanese officials on the results of the Warsaw Conference, which was held in mid-February and devoted to discuss “the impact of Iran and its terrorism in the region.”

Satterfield’s visit to Lebanon is expected to pave the way for US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who visited the region in mid-January. He did not visit Lebanon at the time but his visit included Qatar, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Egypt and Jordan.

A source at the US Embassy did not confirm Pompeo’s visit. He told Arab News that he does not “rule out his visit to Lebanon.”

Satterfield said in brief statements after meeting a number of Lebanese officials, who did not include President Michel Aoun, that his country was “deeply committed to Lebanon and would like to see it move forward and face its options.”

He also said after meeting Lebanese Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, that“the US and other countries will deal with Lebanon according to the way in which Lebanon will adopt these options, which we hope will be positive for the benefit of Lebanon and its people, not for the benefit of foreign parties.”

“Lebanon now has a new government to take sensitive decisions related to the country’s economy, security and combating corruption,” he added.

The US official, accompanied by US Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard, visited Prime Minister Saad Hariri. During the meeting, they discussed “the latest developments, the general situation in Lebanon and the region and the bilateral relations between the two countries,” according to the media office of the prime minister.

After his meeting with MP Sami Gemayel, leader of the Lebanese Phalange Party, Satterfield said that his tour in Lebanon “comes after the formation of the government and in light of the changes in the region. There is a US desire to see real stability and security in Lebanon, and this depends on its national options, not on dictated options.”

“Lebanon has long suffered from conflicts and ideologies promoted from abroad,” he said.

“This situation must change and there must be serious decisions in this context. The parties in Lebanon are effective and there must be national action in this direction. The US will do everything in its power to support Lebanon’s national options.”


US to send 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East

Updated 18 June 2019
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US to send 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East

DUBAI/WASHINGTON: Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced on Monday the deployment of about 1,000 more troops to the Middle East for what he said were “defensive purposes,” citing concerns about a threat from Iran.
“The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region,” Shanahan said in a statement.
Reuters first reported plans to send US additional troops to the Middle East earlier on Monday.
Fears of a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since last Thursday when two oil tankers were attacked, more than a year after President Donald Trump announced Washington was withdrawing from a 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran said on Monday it would soon breach limits on how much enriched uranium it can stockpile under the deal, which a White House National Security Council spokesman said amounted to “nuclear blackmail.”