No US visa for Lebanese leader

The US embassy in Beirut has revoked a visa for a Druze leader and member of parliament following his comments about a senior US politician. 

Walid Jumblatt has caused waves in the past with his comments
Walid Jumblatt has caused waves in the past with his comments

Walid Jumblatt had expressed regret that US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was unhurt in Baghdad attack last month.

Jumblatt confirmed he had received a letter from the US embassy in Beirut cancelling the visa.

The letter said the visa had been cancelled in line with a law saying it could not be granted to a foreign dignitary who used his position to support or encourage “terrorism”.

Jumblatt told that he has no regrets over his comments regarding Wolfowitz, adding he was not surprised by the embassy’s action.

“But they should also deprive visas for the hundreds of thousands of people in London demonstrating against Bush’s visit. They should also consider the mayor of London a terrorist, if they are going to go around terrorising the world with these policies,” he said.

Jumblatt was referring to the demonstrators in London who are opposed to US President George Bush’s state visit and the left-wing Mayor Ken Livingstone, who has called Bush “the greatest threat to life on this planet that we’ve most probably ever seen.”

“They should also deprive visas for the hundreds of thousands of people in London demonstrating against Bush’s visit”

Walid Jumblatt,
Lebanese MP

US embassy sources in Lebanon said that they could not comment on individual cases. The Druze leader, however, could re-apply for another visa, said the sources.

Jumblatt said he is in no rush to re-apply for a visa and would not do so until he has received an apology from the embassy.  

Wolfowitz’s hotel came under a salvo of rockets during his October visit. One US soldier was killed and 17 other people  were wounded in the attack.

Wreaking havoc

A day after the attack, Jumblatt said he had hoped the rocket that missed Wolfowitz would “next time be more accurate and effective in order to get rid of this germ, and people like him in Washington, who are wreaking havoc with the Arab land in Iraq and in Palestine.”

Jumblatt had also described Wolfowitz as a “friend of Ariel Sharon”, Israel’s hardline prime minister, and “one of the main architects of… the destruction of Iraq”.

“Such statements not only praise acts of terrorism, but serve to incite future attacks on US government officials. We expect the government of Lebanon likewise to publicly condemn these remarks,” the embassy had responded in a statement.

Beirut refrained from condemning Jumblatt’s remarks.

Jumblatt is the second Lebanese politician known to be refused access to the United States. In June, Lebanese Finance Minister Fuad Saniora was barred from America for giving money to a charity accused of links to resistance group Hizb Allah, which is on the US list of alleged terrorist organizations.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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