BEIRUT: The United States will work on insulating Lebanon from any military strike against neighboring Syria, the Obama administration’s new envoy to Beirut said Friday.
"We are also very focused on insulating Lebanon from any aftermath of any response to Syria's chemical attack and preserving Lebanon's policy of disassociation," U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale told reporters at the Grand Serail, in his first comments since taking his post.
Hale, who spoke following a meeting to caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, added that his talks with officials centered on the challenges facing Lebanon as a result of the crisis in Syria.
Earlier Friday, Hale presented his credentials to President Michel Sleiman at Baabda Palace.
U.S. President Barack Obama is seeking congressional authorization to launch a punitive strike against the regime of President Bashar Assad over its alleged use of chemical weapons.
Assad's allies Iran and Russia have warned against any attack that is aimed at weakening the Syrian regime's capabilities.
Hale said Assad needed to be held accountable for the "outrageous" use of chemical weapons.
Damascus denies using chemical arms in the more than two-year-old conflict.
Describing Beirut’s policy of disassociation as right for Lebanon, Hale said: "We believe the interests of the Lebanese people would be best served if all Lebanese adhere to the policy of disassociation."
Hale, who arrived in Lebanon last week to replace former Ambassador Maura Connelly, also said Hezbollah's involvement in the Syrian crisis represented further challenges for the country.
"Hezbollah continues to blatantly violate the disassociation policy through direct participation in the Syrian conflict, exacerbating the challenges facing Lebanon today," he said.
He also affirmed that ties with Lebanon would remain strong, adding that the American Embassy is committed to deepening and broadening the partnership between the two countries.
During the meeting, Mikati said dialogue was the “only means to resolve the crisis in Syria,” calling on distancing Lebanon from regional repercussions.”
According to his office, Mikati said “using force and violence cannot resolve the issues at hand.”
He also asked the international community to support Lebanon as it struggles to cope with the growing number of Syrian refugees.
" Lebanon alone cannot bare the repercussion of the Syrian influx,” Mikati said.
“What is needed from the international community is that it offer the necessary support as soon as possible,” he added.