BEIRUT: Caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour stressed Monday that he did not violate Lebanon’s disassociation policy during the Geneva II conference, saying that not a single Lebanese official had criticized the remarks he made at the peace talks.
“There is no government official who criticized what I said at Geneva II,” Mansour said, adding that “the foreign minister is inspired by the Lebanese government’s policies.”
Mansour said the paragraph he added to his speech, which concerned Hezbollah’s participation in Syria, was “an inevitable,” reaction to the derisive comments against Hezbollah that had been made at the conference beforehand, “because remaining silent would have been the same as agreeing with the unjust stances being taken against Lebanon.”
The minister held a news conference Monday in a bid to clarify his remarks, stating that there was “a concerted campaign” against him following his speech at the U.N. peace conference.
March 14 figures, especially Future Movement lawmakers, criticized Mansour’s speech, saying they were representative of Hezbollah and not Lebanon.
Mansour, a controversial figure, had said at the conference last week that critics of Hezbollah’s role in Syria were seeking to divert attention from the “takfiri” threat.
In May last year, Hezbollah acknowledged that it was fighting alongside Syrian regime forces and argued that its presence was a pre-emptive strike against takfiri forces that aimed to target Lebanon.
Mansour said Monday that Hezbollah’s participation in Syria should be put aside and that “no objective person can deny that the resistance honored Lebanon and freed its lands ... can this be a terrorist organization?”
“The coming days will prove that the stance I took [at the conference] was the safest, because one can only take this course when dealing with a sisterly country like Syria, with which we have special relations. I was committed to the government policy ... and I expressed the interests of Lebanon, and the future will be fair to me,” he said.
Mansour also criticized Ahmad Jarba, head of the Syrian National Coalition, who he said did not thank Lebanon for its efforts, an oversight which he said he considered an “insult.” He noted that “the ministerial statement of the resigned government adopts the formula of “Army, people and resistance,” which I would have violated had I not retorted at Jarba’s comment that Hezbollah was a terrorist organization.”
The minister pointed out that Lebanon has offered aid to Syrian refugees and “carried the burden whether directly or indirectly,” and Jarba should have offered the country his thanks, as he did to Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Kurdistan and the Gulf states.
Mansour also said he was against foreign intervention in Syria, though there are many foreign fighters involved in the embattled country.
“I write my speeches myself, and I choose my words so I can be responsible for them,” he said.
He also denied meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem in Switzerland, or that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had asked Hezbollah to pull out of Syria at the World Economic Forum, held in the Swiss town of Davos.