BEIRUT: New U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale discussed national and regional developments with Lebanese political figures over the weekend, expressing the need to keep Lebanon out of the conflict in neighboring Syria.
Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt received the new U.S. envoy at his Clemenceau residence in Beirut Saturday where the two discussed current political developments in Lebanon and the region.
Caretaker Social Affairs Minister Wael Abu Faour and PSP Vice President Duraid Yaghi were also present at the meeting.
Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi also received the new ambassador in Yarze, where the two discussed the general situation in Lebanon.
Similarly, Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam received Hale at his home in Moseitbeh and the two held talks about recent regional and national developments and bilateral relations.
Hale presented his credentials to caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour and President Michel Sleiman last week.
He replaces former U.S. Ambassador Maura Connelly, whose term ended last month.
Hale had stressed on the need to insulate Lebanon from possible U.S.-led military strikes against Syria, following a meeting with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the Grand Serail last week.
“We are also very focused on insulating Lebanon from any consequences related to any response to Syria’s chemical attack, and maintaining Lebanon’s policy of disassociation,” Hale said in a statement.
He also said Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian conflict caused more challenges for Lebanon.
Hale expressed his embassy’s commitment to deepening and expanding relations with Lebanon in order to serve the interests of both countries.
Referring to the U.S. State Department’s order for nonessential embassy personnel to evacuate last week, Mikati said he hoped they would soon return, and that security forces were taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety of diplomatic missions and foreigners in the country.