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Pompeo in Beirut, Jerusalem, Kuwait Next Week, to Address Hezbollah, Iran Threats

Pompeo in Beirut, Jerusalem, Kuwait Next Week, to Address Hezbollah, Iran Threats

Friday, 15 March, 2019 - 19:00
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department, Friday, March 15, 2019 in Washington. (AP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
The US State Department confirmed on Friday a four-day visit by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Lebanon, Israel and Kuwait next week.

In Beirut, he will meet with Lebanese leaders to discuss the political, security, economic, and humanitarian challenges facing Lebanon. Pompeo’s visit will underscore US support for the Lebanese people and Lebanon’s legitimate state institutions, said a State Department statement.

A senior Department official revealed that he will address with Lebanese officials the presence of Hezbollah officials in parliament and government.

“There is going to be no skating around the challenges posed to Lebanon and its people by Hezbollah,” he told a press briefing.

On the oilfields dispute between Lebanon and Israel, the official said: “The United States stands ready, as has been the case for the last several years, to facilitate discussions between the governments of Lebanon and Israel, their representatives, for a resolution to mutual benefit of the dispute involving potential offshore resources.”

“It would be regrettable if the people of Lebanon were denied, as a result of Hezbollah and others,” he remarked, while confirming that Pompeo will meet with Lebanese President Michel Aoun.

Moreover, he stressed: “We strongly support the continued US engagement with Lebanese security forces, most notably but not exclusively the Lebanese Armed Forces. They are the legitimate security institution or institutions of Lebanon.”

“Our support for them, the work that they do, their ability to be seen by the people of Lebanon as the legitimate defenders of the state stand in stark contrast to the illegitimate security presence structures of Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps presence in Lebanon.”

In Jerusalem, Pompeo will meet with Israeli officials to engage on critical regional issues, “including countering the Iranian regime’s malign influence and reaffirming the United States’ unwavering commitment to Israel’s security.”

Pompeo will also discuss the administration’s dedication to monitoring and combatting anti-Semitism. While in Jerusalem, he will also participate in a meeting with Israeli, Cypriot, and Greek leaders to discuss key energy and security issues facing the Eastern Mediterranean region.

In Kuwait City, he will lead the US delegation at the third US-Kuwait Strategic Dialogue. The dialogue will focus on many areas of growing US-Kuwait bilateral cooperation, including defense, counter-terrorism, cyber-security, strengthening trade and investment ties, and education.

Pompeo will also meet with Kuwaiti leaders to discuss important regional issues, such as Yemen and Syria, as well as progress on the Middle East Strategic Alliance and “the need for GCC unity in order to confront the region’s challenges and advance prosperity, security and stability.”

“We look forward to a very successful exchange with Kuwaiti officials,” said the State Department official.

Pompeo will kick off his regional visit in Jerusalem on March 19.

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