Hariri Meets Trump: Lebanon's Stability, Economy My Sole Concern


Although he did not mention Hezbollah by name in his English comments, the 2006 resolution he cited calls for "the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that ... there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state". "We also approved the salary scale with all the reforms that were included", added the PM. "And we have an understanding with Hezbollah", Hariri said.

But Lebanon is a land of contradictions, largely due to the outsized influence of Hezbollah-an Iranian-backed group that the US, the European Union, and Israel all consider a terrorist organization-on its politics and security.

"It doesn't work, and it only reinforces a pro-Iranian configuration, partly because the previous administration reconfigured its Lebanon policy to be part of its broader regional policy of realignment with Iran", Badran explained, adding "and partly because Hezbollah controls Lebanon, its strategic orientation, and its security policy and apparatuses".

Through mistakenly saying that Lebanon was on the front lines in the fight against Hezbollah - when in fact the terrorist group is part of the Lebanese government - Trump noted that the group is "fueling the humanitarian catastrophe" in Syria.

Lebanon is pushing back against USA pressure on Hezbollah for fear that efforts from the Donald Trump administration and Congress could destabilize the fragile state.

Mr Hariri, who is heading a delegation that includes foreign minister Gebran Bassil, will also meet with US secretary of defence James Mattis, US secretary of state Rex Tillerson, national security advisor HR McMaster, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, and members of the Lebanese community.

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Hariri was expected to seek additional USA aid to help deal with the flood of Syrian refugees who now make up about a quarter of Lebanon's population of 6 million people, reports The Associated Press.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is in Washington this week to lobby against both threats.

"Hezbollah likes to portray itself as a defender of Lebanese interests, but it's very clear that its true interests are those of itself and its sponsor - Iran", he said. "And we would not like to see them in Syria", he said.

"We encourage other donors to join us in providing additional humanitarian assistance for those affected by the crisis in Syria, including fulfilling not yet funded previously made pledges", the State Department said.

After their oval meeting, Hariri and Trump held a press conference where everything seemed to be going according to plan until the USA president was asked about Hezbollah - a political and military organization, who's also part of the Lebanese parliament. Initially, it was reportedly limited to non-lethal aid and training; later leaks in the media indicated various weaponry was also supplied to groups considered moderate.

Trump responded, "We will do that".