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Tillerson echoes Trump: Hezbollah role 'threat to Lebanon'

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US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned Lebanon on Thursday that the Iran-backed Hezbollah group’s growing arsenal and involvement in regional conflicts threatened Lebanon’s security, Reuters reported.
Speaking alongside Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri in a Beirut news conference, Tillerson also said the United States was engaging with Lebanon and Israel to ensure their border remained calm.
The Trump administration has taken a hardline position on Iran and has sanctioned several people and entities associated with Hezbollah in recent weeks as part of an effort to increase pressure on Iran.
The heavily armed Shi‘ite movement is part of the Lebanese coalition government led by Sunni Muslim politician Hariri, under a complex political system that promotes sectarian power-sharing.
“Hezbollah is not just a concern for the United States. The people of Lebanon should also be concerned about how Hezbollah’s actions and its growing arsenal bring unwanted and unhelpful scrutiny on Lebanon,” Tillerson said.
“Hezbollah’s entanglement in regional conflicts threatens the security of Lebanon,” he added.
Hezbollah has always rejected any demand that it give up its weapons, which it says are necessary to defend Lebanon against Israel. It has said its role in Syria is needed to stop any Sunni militant threat to Lebanon, and said in January it believes the war there will be over in one or two years.