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Tillerson urges Lebanon to distance itself from the Hezbollah militia

Rex Tillerson
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged Lebanon on Thursday to distance itself from the Hezbollah militia as he met with senior government officials.
After arriving from Jordan for a visit of just a few hours, Tillerson went directly to Baabda Palace to meet with President Michel Aoun, who maintains close relations with the group. The secretary of state said it is in Lebanon’s best interests to “disassociate” itself from Hezbollah, an ally of Iran, and its foreign adventures.
“Hezbollah’s presence in Syria has only perpetuated the bloodshed, increased the displacement of innocent people and propped up the barbaric Assad regime,” Tillerson said in a news conference with Prime Minister Saad Hariri, whose coalition government includes the group.
“Their presence in Iraq and Yemen has also fueled violence. And the consequences of Hezbollah’s involvement in these far-off conflicts — which have nothing to do with Lebanon — are felt here.”
Tillerson’s stop in Beirut represents an effort to push back against Iran’s influence in the region, a major component of U.S. policy in the Middle East.
It is one reason the United States is likely to maintain a military presence in Syria long after Islamic State militants are routed. Hezbollah poses a threat to neighboring Israel, and the militia battled in Syria alongside the Lebanese Army against ISIS militants.
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