BEIRUT: U.S. Ambassador David Hale said Thursday Washington will continue to combat Iran and Hezbollah’s terrorist activities in the region despite ongoing negotiations with Tehran over its disputed nuclear program.
“As we proceed with negotiations about Iran’s nuclear program, the United States will not ignore Iran’s destabilizing actions in the region. We will continue to counter Iran’s terrorist activities, and those of its proxies, including Hezbollah,” Hale said at the Grand Serail.
He added that the U.S. will continue to enforce current sanctions that remain in place, though decreased, and keep the pressure on Iran during the first phase of negotiations with Tehran.
“We will continue our work with Lebanon to ensure that the enforcement of the international sanctions remains rigorous,” he said.
His remarks came after a meeting with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati where the two discussed the recent agreement between the international community and Iran.
The ambassador reiterated that the initial plan for Iran’s nuclear activity will not change U.S. alliances and friendships.
“In fact, these discussions with Iran in no way dilute the strength and steadfastness of our commitment to the shared values of the Lebanese and the Americans” he said.
Hale described the nuclear deal with Tehran as the “first meaningful limits Iran has accepted on its nuclear program in close to a decade.”
He also said the aim of the long-term negotiations is to reach a comprehensive solution that addresses all of the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program and its ability to develop nuclear weapons.
“That is our goal because we are committed to preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and to protecting our allies, especially in a region such as the Middle East, where security is so critical,” he said.
“We recognize that Lebanon’s leaders and people have a justifiable interest in these negotiations [and its implications] as well as in their relationship with the United States,” Hale added.
Hale also said the U.S. will continue to urge “adherence to Lebanese law and international agreements, such as the Baabda Declaration and Security Council resolutions 1701 and 1559.”
“We, along with the International Support Group, will continue to address the effects on Lebanon of the war in Syria and help [implement] Lebanon’s wise policy of dissociation from that conflict,” he added.