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

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.”


Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani tenders his resignation

Updated 4 min ago

Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani tenders his resignation

KABUL: Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani tendered his resignation on Wednesday following differences with President Ashraf Ghani, who Rabbani accused of sidelining him.
His departure may not affect Ashraf’s already weak government because Rabbani was disqualified from office by Parliament three years ago, and served as acting minister on the basis of an order by the president.
Rabbani is an ally of Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who shares power with Ghani and is the president’s election rival.
Rabbani’s resignation comes weeks ahead of the possible formation of a new government if an election winner is announced.
“During my time, the working environment in the National Unity Government was not good from the start,” he wrote in his resignation letter.
“I witnessed parallel structures being created and have seen essential institutions — key pillars of the system — pushed to the side.”
The presidential palace had no immediate comment about Rabbani’s resignation or his allegations, which according to his supporters include being barred from attending conferences and events overseas that fall under his remit.
Part of Rabbani’s differences with Ghani surfaced openly earlier this month when Rabbani’s office welcomed Pakistani efforts regarding the Afghan peace process, which included a warm reception in Islamabad to a visiting Taliban delegation. The Afghan presidential palace openly opposed Pakistan’s warm welcome of the delegation.