US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the Lebanese people to “stand up to Hezbollah’s criminality, terror and threats,” during on his first official visit to Lebanon on Friday.
“Frankly, Lebanon and the Lebanese people face a choice: bravely move forward as an independent and proud nation or allow the dark ambitions of Iran and Hezbollah to dictate your future,” Pompeo said during a joint press conference with Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil.
“We have confirmed that Hezbollah is for us a non-terrorist Lebanese party and it elected representatives from the Lebanese people, a large popular establishment,” Bassil said. “It’s classification as terrorism is a matter for the country that classifies it as such.”
Earlier on Friday, Pompeo met with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
The Secretary of State’s two-day visit to Beirut is the last leg of a regional trip that had taken him to Kuwait and Israel.
Pompeo’s visit to Lebanon comes four days before Lebanese President Michel Aoun will visit Russia for two days, with talks being scheduled with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On Thursday, Aoun said that US sanctions on Hezbollah were harming Lebanon as a whole.