Visiting U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday that his country is committed to a political solution to the Syrian crisis which leads to the “formation of an inclusive government.”
However, he pointed that “we do not see President Bashar Assad in the country’s future,” the National News Agency (NNA) reported.
According to the NNA, Blinken, accompanying the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, met with Prime Minister Tammam Salam and criticized Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria, saying it “harms Lebanon” and “prolongs the conflict.”
He added “by supporting the Syrian government in the war against the rebels, Hezbollah is contributing to the massive influx of refugees into Lebanon, and helping ISIS gain recruits.”
He said that he recapped with the prime minister regional developments following the nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1 countries in Lausanne last week.
Blinken reiterated his country’s commitment to Lebanon and its people, stressing the “importance of Lebanon’s security and prosperity for the region.”
He also revealed that discussions were concerning the situation in Syria, Yemen and peace in the Middle East, pointing that “all these matters affect Lebanon and its interests are at stake.”
He added “Lebanon is in need of a strong government that faces challenges head-on, and this country cannot overcome its difficulties under a presidential void.”
Pointing to the presidential vacuum, the U.S. official stressed “the presidential election is a decision solely for the Lebanese to make, but they must make it.”
Lebanon has been without a president since the end of former President Michel Suleiman’s tenure May 25th.
Parliament failed 21 consecutive times picking a new head of state due to lack of the constitutionally required two-thirds quorum.
Blinken arrived in Lebanon Sunday and met with Speaker Nabih Berri, Foreign Affairs Minister Gebran Bassil, head of the Democratic Gathering MP Walid Jumblatt, and is scheduled to meet with Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji.
Blinken said he was heading to Saudi Arabia after his Lebanon trip. Enditem