US envoy's criticism irks Lebanon

Lebanon is to contact foreign envoys to demand that they respect diplomatic norms after the US ambassador called a news conference to press for changes to government policy.

    The US ambassador urged the authorities to disarm Hizb Allah

    Foreign Minister Mahmud Hammud is to speak to all accredited heads of mission to remind them that their status precludes them from interfering in the internal affairs of the country where they are based, diplomats said. 

    The cabinet decided on the move in protest at Jeffrey Feltman's outspoken criticism at a press conference on Wednesday. 

    The US ambassador urged the government to disarm the Hizb Allah resistance group, widely credited in Lebanon with ending Israel's 22-year occupation of south Lebanon in 2000, and deploy the army in its place in formerly occupied areas. 

    "It's the responsibility of the Lebanese government to exercise control over the border area. It's essential that this happens very quickly," Feltman told reporters. 

    Heightened tension

    The declarations come amid heightened tension between the US and Lebanon over Syria's perceived interference in its smaller neighbour's affairs. 

    UN Security Council Resolution 1559, passed in September and co-sponsored by Washington, called for Lebanon's independence to be respected, for Syria's estimated 15,000 troops to be withdrawn, and for Hizb Allah to be disarmed. 

    Hizb Allah too reacted angrily to Feltman's comments on Friday. The ambassador had "exceeded all bounds and driven a coach and horses through diplomatic protocol with his flagrant interference", the Shia resistance movement said.

    SOURCE: AFP


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