Lebanon Urges US to Prevent Israel From 'Continuing Assaults on Sovereignty'

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri visits the grave of his father slain Prime Minister Rafik Hariri Beirut Feb. 14 2018

The tripartite meetings between Lebanon's three leaders also touched on Israel's construction of a 23-foot concrete wall along the blue line between the two countries, which Israel deems falls entirely on its side of the United Nations -recognized border.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is urging Hezbollah to cease its activities overseas to help reduce tensions in the region.

Rejecting Israel's claims about owning parts of Lebanon's Exclusive Economic Zone in the Lebanese territorial waters, the president emphasized that Lebanon is "committed to calm on the southern border".

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held talks with Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Thursday in Beirut where he offered Washington's support for a "free and democratic" Lebanon.

US President Donald Trump has been tough on Hezbollah, imposing new sanctions created to damage Iran and its allies.

Lebanon has been forced to deny that visiting US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was made to wait ahead of a meeting with President Michel Aoun on objective, a departure from diplomatic protocol.

Turning to the Syrian refugee crisis, Aoun said Lebanon "which hosted more than 1.85 million Syrian refugees on its soil since the beginning of the bloody events in Syria, can no longer bear further repercussions on its security, stability, economy and social, educational and health situations".

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Tillerson left the meeting with Aoun without making a statement, but he signed the guest book at the Baabda Presidential Palace.

The visit coincides with heightened tensions between Lebanon and its southern neighbor over oil and gas reserves and Israel's construction of a border wall that Lebanon says encroaches on its territory.

"Hezbollah entanglement in regional conflicts threatens the security of Lebanon and has destabilising effects on the region", he said of the Iran-backed Shia movement, which is part of the Lebanese government.

Israel has recently escalated its threats over Lebanon's invitation for offshore gas exploration bids along the countries' maritime border.

Tillerson "reaffirmed to Berri the importance of the close U.S".

Tillerson is due to meet Lebanon s political leadership Thursday as part of a tour of the Middle East.

Mr Aoun, a former army general, became president of Lebanon in October 2016, after a surprising shift in allegiances across the country's deeply divided political parties, ending an nearly two-year-long power vacuum.


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