US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told President Michel Aoun that the US would send Lebanon aid to rebuild areas damaged by the deadly Aug. 4 port blast, a statement from the Lebanese presidency said Monday.
“We will send aid to rebuild neighborhoods that were damaged in Beirut as a result of the explosion that occurred in the port on August 4,” Pompeo was quoted in a tweet published by the presidency as telling Aoun in a phone call.
The provision of US assistance to Lebanon is complicated by the outsized role that Hezbollah plays in the Lebanese government. Hezbollah is recognized as a political party in Lebanon but considered a terrorist organization by the US State Department because of its anti-Israel stance.
The US in September blacklisted two of Lebanon’s ministers allied with Iran-backed Hezbollah, claiming they provided material support to the Shiite party and engaged in corruption. The sanctions are the latest US attempt to pressure Lebanon to weaken Hezbollah’s growing influence in the Lebanese government.
On the call with Pompeo, Aoun also stressed that “Lebanon is determined to reach an agreement that preserves its rights and sovereignty, on land and at sea,” referring to US-mediated border demarcation negotiations with Israel.
Lebanese and Israeli delegations Wednesday formally marked the start of indirect talks to demarcate their land and maritime borders, having spent years wrangling over how to approach negotiations on allocating the contested and potentially hydrocarbon rich waters.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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