US Aid to Lebanon hinges on deployment along Israeli border
US President George W. Bush has put his signature to the 2003 Foreign Relations Authorization Act on Monday, September 30. The bill contains a provision making a $10 million aid package to Lebanon conditional on the deployment of Lebanese troops along the border with Israel.
Lebanon’s southern region is a stronghold of the militant Islamic group Hezbollah, which helped liberate the region in May 2000 from a 22-year long Israeli occupation. The group periodically stages attacks on Israeli territory.
Concerned that the Hezbollah might intensify its shelling of northern Israel ahead of possible US strike against Iraq, Washington is seeking to propel the government of Lebanon to effectively assert its control over the area.
Upon signing the bill, which also identifies Jerusalem as Israel's capital, President Bush stated that his administration was not legally bound to follow those provisions of the bill that were encroaching on the president's right to conduct foreign policy.
Following Lebanese media reports, the State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher has issued a statement asserting the US has authorized $32 million in development assistance to Lebanon during fiscal year 2002, which ended September 30. — (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)