Friday, February 09, 2018

Previewing Secretary Tillerson's Upcoming Trip To Amman, Jordan; Ankara, Turkey; Beirut, Lebanon; Cairo, Egypt; And Kuwait City, Kuwait

Special Briefing

Senior State Department Officials
Via Teleconference
February 9, 2018

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: So again, as part of the visit, the Secretary's going to visit Beirut. This is the first time a Secretary of State has been to Beirut in four years. And obviously, the center of that visit, he'll meet with President Aoun, with Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and with the speaker of the parliament, Nabih Berri. It's really an opportunity to affirm our support for Lebanon as it confronts a whole range of challenges – defending its borders from terrorists, coping with extraordinary influx of refugees, upwards of a million refugees since the start of the Syrian war. And the visit will also underscore our commitment to Lebanese national institutions, principally the Lebanese Armed Forces and internal security forces in Lebanon, as those forces fight ISIS, al-Qaida, and maintain Lebanon's stability.

He'll obviously also raise the question – the issue of Hizballah, the destructive role that Hizballah plays in Lebanon and across the region. It's obviously unacceptable that a militia like Hizballah continues to operate outside the authority of the Lebanese state, and that will be a major topic of discussion between him and Lebanon's leaders.