US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said in an interview published in the Sunday edition of An-Nahar newspaper that “through our discussions with Syria, we are trying to enhance the international and regional atmosphere, so that Lebanon becomes an independent player,” adding, “We reassure Damascus that our support for Lebanon’s independence and sovereignty will not be at Syria’s expense.”
He said the US welcomes the formation of the Lebanese cabinet and looks forward to cooperating with it and denied accusations that his country interfered in the government-formation process.
Feltman also said Iran is continuing to supply arms to Hezbollah, adding this “was proven when Israel raided the Francop ship.” He voiced hope that the Lebanese cabinet would be aware of the danger of such incidents as well as the launch of rockets from Lebanon into Israel.
Feltman reiterated the US commitment to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, saying, “No one knows where the investigations will lead, however as a member of the Security Council that met Lebanon’s demand to form the tribunal, we maintain our commitment to it.”
He described the US-Syrian conflict as “deep,” but added that Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mekdad’s visit to Washington at the end of September was “positive and constructive.” Feltman also stressed that his country is committed to facilitating Syrian-Israeli negotiations, despite its failure to do so until now.
Feltman said the US and France have a high-level of cooperation on the Middle East peace process, explaining that both countries agree that Syria can play a positive role in the region.
Feltman also spoke about Iran, saying the US is disappointed with Tehran for not agreeing to implement the agreement reached in Geneva in October – under which Tehran would ship 1,200 kilograms of its own stockpiled uranium to Russia, and subsequently France, by the end of the year — and added that the international community remains united in confronting the challenges posed by Iran.NOW Lebanon