Lebanon’s Hariri Denies his Assets under Freeze Threat by US
Lebanon's billionaire prime minister denied a report that the United States plans to freeze his global assets to force action by Beirut against Hizbollah, a newspaper said on Saturday.
Reuters and agencies quoted Rafiq Al Hariri as telling Kuwait's Arab Times by telephone that the United States "has not made any arrangements to freeze" his assets abroad as part of the US-led war on terrorism.
A report earlier published in Kuwaiti newspapers said that some in the US Congress were in favor of moving against Hariri's assets.
But the report could not be verified by Hariri's office when contacted by the agency.
Hariri, a multi-millionaire who made his fortune in Saudi Arabia, also refuted claims that the United States is seeking to expose his support for Hizbollah in order to publicly embarrass him, the daily said, adding that the Lebanese premier denied being under pressure from within or outside his country.
Washington is calling for a freeze of the assets of Hizbollah, which is fighting a guerrilla war against Israeli troops holding the disputed Shabaa Farms border area.
Beirut, backed by Damascus, has rejected Washington's request and called on the United States to take Hizbollah off its list of terrorist organizations, arguing that the fundamentalist movement has merely been resisting Israeli occupation of Lebanese land, and has never threatened US interests, according to AFP.
The daily also quoted unidentified sources close to the Lebanese premier's office as saying pressure is being exerted on Hariri, "especially during ongoing critical political circumstances in the world."
The sources said, however, that Hariri's position should not be misconstrued as protecting terrorism but stressed the need to distinguish legitimate resistance against occupation from the US-led war on terrorism.
Arab Times said editor-in chief Ahmed Al Jarallah spoke to Hariri but that none of the conversation was quoted directly, said AFP – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)