Lebanon Urges US to Prevent Israel From 'Continuing Assaults on Sovereignty'

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the governmental palace in Beirut

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the governmental palace in Beirut

Tillerson arrived in the Lebanese capital earlier in the day as part of a regional tour.

Tillerson, who arrived in Beirut from neighboring Jordan, is the most senior official from the Trump administration to visit Lebanon and the first by a us secretary of state in four years.

Speaking alongside Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri in a Beirut news conference, Tillerson also said the United States was engaging with Lebanon and Israel to ensure their border remained calm.

Tillerson held a meeting with Lebanon's President Michel Aoun Thursday immediately after arriving in Beirut, during which he discussed Lebanon's gas and border dispute with Israel.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is urging Hezbollah to cease its activities overseas to help reduce tensions in the region.

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Hezbollah's involvement in regional conflicts poses a threat to the security of Lebanon and is a destabilising influence in the Middle East, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Thursday.

Turning to the Syrian refugee crisis, Aoun said Lebanon "which hosted more than 1.85 million Syrian refugees on its soil since the beginning of the bloody events in Syria, can no longer bear further repercussions on its security, stability, economy and social, educational and health situations".

Tillerson, during his short visit, is also expected to reinforce support for Lebanon's government headed by Hariri and for the Lebanese armed forces.

The head of USA diplomacy is scheduled to arrive in Beirut tomorrow with an agenda that includes talks with the main leaders of this country.

Tillerson's visit comes in the wake of Lebanon signing its first offshore oil and gas exploration agreements with an worldwide consortium of energy companies, comprising France's Total, Italy's Eni and Russia's Novatek.

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The policy the three leaders wish to put forth is one hinging on the notion that Israel's actions along the southern and maritime border infringe upon Lebanon's rights.

Hezbollah has always rejected any demand that it give up its weapons, which it says are necessary to defend Lebanon against Israel.

The visit comes amid a new USA effort to squeeze Iran with sanctions against Hezbollah and the Trump administration is hitting Hezbollah's financial network with new penalties as part of its efforts to limit Iran's influence throughout the region.

Mr Aoun, a former army general, became president of Lebanon in October 2016, after a surprising shift in allegiances across the country's deeply divided political parties, ending an nearly two-year-long power vacuum.

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