US Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of State for Asia and Near East Affairs David Hale has warned that the rearmament of Hezbollah through Syria and Iran may re-incite confrontation with Israel, which could destroy Lebanon once again.
In an interview with the regional daily al-Hayat on Wednesday, Hale affirmed that his country shared the same objectives with France and other countries across Europe toward Syria and Lebanon, adding that United States’ goal remained a free, sovereign, and independent Lebanon. He also said it was important to his country that Syria was aware that it would not be treated as a member in the international community as long as there was objection to Damascus’s policies.
While Hale conceded that the approaches the US and Europe employed differed, he emphasized that both wanted to end Syrian interference in Lebanese affairs and Syrian support for terrorism.
Hale called for the complete implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR), including UNSCR 1701. Damascus should prove to the international community through action that it was implementing UNSCR 1701 and must move toward delineating a Lebanese-Syrian border and stop weapons smuggling to Hezbollah, he added. The Shebaa Farms issue, Hale said, could not be resolved if Syria did not outline a border with Lebanon.
Al-Hayat reported that, in response to a question, Hale stopped short of directly accusing Syria of being responsible of the assassinations in Lebanon over the past three years and said that the United Nations investigation would lead to convicting the criminals behind the killings. “I think we should all have reservations in issuing accusations until we see the result of this judicial process,” he said.
Hale also commented on US aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the possibility of the donation of air defense artillery. The US was considering the provision of the LAF with armament through ongoing talks with officials and military leaders, primarily Army Commander General Jean Kahwaji. Decisions in would be revealed soon, he added.