BEIRUT: U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale ruled out in remarks published Sunday any form of compromise with Iran over the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and stressed that the court probing the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri aimed at confronting political violence in the country.
Hale told pan-Arab Al-Hayat newspaper there was no possibility for a compromise over the STL, noting that the court was based on Lebanese law and U.N. Security Council decisions and that the Lebanese sought real stability in their country and were calling for the rule of law.
Hale was responding to a question on whether any settlement with Iran would include the U.N.-backed court in the event improved ties between the West and the Islamic Republic became the norm.
The U.N.-backed tribunal launched its deliberations Thursday at The Hague over the 2005 assassination of Hariri. Five Hezbollah members have been indicted in the case. Hezbollah denies any involvement.
In the interview with Al-Hayat, Hale also dismissed claims that the international court was the reason for political divisions among the Lebanese, stressing that political violence, which the STL sought to confront, was the real source of divisions in the country.
Hale said stability in Lebanon required law enforcement and that the tribunal was contributing to this process to a large extent.
The envoy had no comment when asked about reports Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, during a recent visit to Lebanon, had encouraged Hezbollah to make concessions over the Cabinet formation with the aim of sending a positive signal to the United States and Saudi Arabia.
Hale added that it was important for the Lebanese to make their own decisions on local matters.
He also stressed that the Cabinet formation process should proceed without foreign interference.
The envoy reiterated his criticism of Hezbollah’s military role in Syria and said it was in the interest of the Lebanese people Lebanon abide by its disassociation policy toward the crisis in its neighbor.
Unfortunately, Hale said, Hezbollah is trying to drag the country into the Syrian conflict.
When asked whether the international community backed extending President Michel Sleiman's term which expires in May, Hale said the U.S. respected that the issue was for the Lebanese to decide.