US en­voy says ‘page turned’ after meet­ing Le­banese FM

US am­bas­sador says meet­ing a pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ment fol­low­ing ‘un­for­tu­nate’ ju­di­cial de­ci­sion

Arab News - - News Middle East - Na­jia Hous­sari Beirut

The sum­mon­ing of US Am­bas­sador to Le­banon Dorothy Shea by Le­banese For­eign Min­is­ter Nas­sif Hitti on Mon­day turned into a pro­to­col meet­ing.

The for­eign min­is­ter, who sum­moned Shea after she crit­i­cized Hezbol­lah, noted “the free­dom of the me­dia and the right of ex­pres­sion, which are sa­cred rights.” A state­ment is­sued by the two par­ties said: “We have openly dis­cussed the cur­rent de­vel­op­ments on the lo­cal scene. We touched on the bi­lat­eral re­la­tions that bring to­gether the two coun­tries and the Le­banese and Amer­i­can peo­ple, and we stressed the im­por­tance of co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two gov­ern­ments in all fields, in sup­port of Le­banon to get out of the eco­nomic cri­sis that it is suf­fer­ing from.” After the meet­ing, Am­bas­sador Shea said: “My meet­ing with the (for­eign) min­is­ter was pos­i­tive, and I agreed with him to turn the page after the un­for­tu­nate ju­di­cial de­ci­sion that came to de­flect at­ten­tion from the eco­nomic cri­sis. The United States is ready and will con­tinue to as­sist Le­banon as long as the gov­ern­ment takes the nec­es­sary steps to ad­dress the causes of the cri­sis.”

She noted that her coun­try “ap­pre­ci­ates co­op­er­a­tion to ad­vance our many com­mon in­ter­ests and our mu­tual goals in th­ese par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult times. I af­firm that our bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship is strong and we will con­tinue to pro­vide ev­ery­thing that ben­e­fits the peo­ple of our two coun­tries.”

Am­bas­sador Shea said dur­ing an in­ter­view with Al-Ha­dath TV on Fri­day that “Hezbol­lah built a state within the state that drained Le­banon, and cost the Le­banese state bil­lions of dol­lars that went to Hezbol­lah’s mini-state in­stead of the gov­ern­ment trea­sury.”

The meet­ing be­tween Hitti and Shea was ac­com­pa­nied by a small group protest­ing against Amer­i­can in­ter­fer­ence in Le­banese af­fairs. The US en­voy en­tered through a back door amid tight se­cu­rity mea­sures taken by the In­ter­nal Se­cu­rity Forces in the vicin­ity of the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs in Beirut. Judge Mazeh’s de­ci­sion caused great dis­con­tent in the me­dia and po­lit­i­cal cir­cles, while it was wel­comed by Hezbol­lah sup­port­ers.

The Supreme Ju­di­cial Coun­cil has sum­moned Judge Mazeh to ap­pear on Tues­day. Mazeh an­tic­i­pated any pos­si­bil­ity of be­ing sum­moned by an­nounc­ing that he would ap­ply to for­mally end his ser­vices in the ju­di­ciary on Tues­day.

The Chi­nese Em­bassy in Le­banon also replied to the Amer­i­can am­bas­sador, who talked about China’s co­op­er­a­tion with other coun­tries dur­ing her TV in­ter­view with Al-Ha­dath.

The Chi­nese Em­bassy said in a state­ment that “China has been car­ry­ing out co­op­er­a­tion with de­vel­op­ing coun­tries un­der the prin­ci­ple of re­spect for State sovereignt­y and in­ter­na­tional rules, as well as en­hanc­ing in­ter­na­tional anti-cor­rup­tion co­op­er­a­tion. The rel­e­vant Chi­nese loans have no po­lit­i­cal strings.”

The Chi­nese Em­bassy hoped that “the United States can view China’s co­op­er­a­tion with other coun­tries in a cor­rect and ob­jec­tive way. The US side should at least stop im­ped­ing oth­ers from as­sist­ing th­ese de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, whereas serv­ing its own po­lit­i­cal needs at the cost of the de­vel­op­ing coun­tries’ ben­e­fit.”

The sum­mons of the US am­bas­sador to the For­eign Min­istry co­in­cided with a visit by Saudi Am­bas­sador to Le­banon Walid bin Ab­dul­lah Bukhari to for­mer Le­banese Pres­i­dent Michel Suleiman. The me­dia of­fice at the Saudi Em­bassy said that “dur­ing the meet­ing, all cur­rent po­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ments on the Le­banese and re­gional are­nas were dis­cussed in ad­di­tion to is­sues of com­mon con­cern.”

Suleiman said after the meet­ing: “By chance, Am­bas­sador Bukhari vis­ited me after the de­ci­sion to pre­vent the Amer­i­can am­bas­sador from speak­ing. Apart from the Vi­enna Agree­ment and the role of the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs in deal­ing with am­bas­sadors, is it per­mis­si­ble for us to de­prive the me­dia of their free­dom? This mat­ter must be cor­rected and the gov­ern­ment’s po­si­tion must be clar­i­fied to pre­serve Le­banon’s rep­u­ta­tion as the coun­try of lib­er­ties.”

Suleiman stressed “the ne­ces­sity of pre­serv­ing the best re­la­tions with the King­dom of Saudi Ara­bia and all the Arab Gulf states, be­cause their per­ma­nent stand­ing along­side Le­banon stems from the love of the broth­ers and with­out any po­lit­i­cal con­di­tions, but in re­turn, there is a ne­ces­sity that re­quires all Le­banese not to at­tack those who al­ways stand at their side.”

Suleiman said: “When­ever the eco­nomic cri­sis in­ten­si­fies, we say that the re­la­tion­ship with the King­dom must be cor­rected. It (the King­dom) is ready and was pre­par­ing 22 agree­ments for the econ­omy of Le­banon be­fore the re­cent changes (gov­ern­ment change).” Suleiman stressed that Saudi Ara­bia “never asked us to ful­fill its de­mands, but rather asked for a good re­la­tion­ship with Le­banon, not to at­tack it, and not to ac­cept at­tacks on the King­dom.”

Suleiman con­demned the at­tack on Saudi Ara­bia.

HIGH­LIGHTS

The US is ready and will con­tinue to as­sist Le­banon as long as the gov­ern­ment takes the nec­es­sary steps to ad­dress the causes of the cri­sis.

Hezbol­lah built a state within the state that drained Le­banon, and cost the Le­banese state bil­lions of dol­lars.

AP

Le­banese For­eign Min­is­ter Nas­sif Hitti, left, dis­cusses cur­rent de­vel­op­ments and bi­lat­eral re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries with US Am­bas­sador to Le­banon Dorothy Shea, in Beirut on Mon­day.

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