BEIRUT: United States Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale said Monday that his country’s policy toward Hezbollah remained the same and Washington still considered it a terrorist organization.
“Let me also take this occasion to say that, of course, nothing has changed in our policy toward Hezbollah, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization which is playing a destructive role in Syria,” Hale said after meeting with a delegation from the March 14 General Secretariat.
Hale also criticized Hezbollah's ongoing involvement in the Syrian war and called on the group to withdraw from the conflict in the neighboring country. He said any side with influence over the regime of Bashar Assad should use its sway to help bring an end to the war.
“By sending fighters into Syria, Hezbollah has violated its own commitment to the Baabda Declaration and Lebanon’s policy of disassociation from the Syrian conflict,” he said.
“Hezbollah should withdraw its fighters from Syria immediately. They are only perpetuating the Syrian regime’s brutality against its own people, drawing extremists into the region and Lebanon, and contributing to the insecurity that is driving refugees to seek shelter in Lebanon,” he said.
“Those who have influence with the Syrian regime need to use it to move the regime toward a negotiated political solution, not to cause more bloodshed and participate in the regime’s campaign against its own people.”
Hale also reiterated his country’s commitment to partnership with Lebanon and the support for the country’s foundations and constants, the Taif Accord, and the Baabda Declaration.
“The United States remains committed to the foundations of our policy toward Lebanon: support for full implementation of the Taif Accord, UN Security Council Resolutions 1701 and 1559, and the Baabda Declaration, as well as support for the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon,” he said. “These provide the ingredients for the stability of Lebanon. We stand with all Lebanese who seek to fulfill the obligations related to these pillars.”
The ambassador called for the election of a new head of state as soon as possible.
“A prolonged presidential vacancy threatens Lebanon’s stability. It is for the Lebanese to elect a Lebanese president, but we urge Parliament to do so soon,” he said. “Only with a fully functioning presidency, Parliament and government will Lebanon be able to address effectively, with international support, the challenges it faces.”