U.S. lawmakers: Lebanon's embrace of Ahmadinejad may affect military aid
U.S. representatives renew opposition to transfer of $100 million in U.S. assistance to Lebanon in wake of visit by Iran President, Lebanese daily reports.
The Lebanese daily An-Nahar on Thursday quoted sources in the U.S. Congress as renewing opposition to U.S. military assistance to Lebanon. The renewed opposition comes in the midst of a visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Lebanon.
In August, two key Democrats, Representatives Nita Lowey and Howard Berman, announced they were holding up $100 million that had been approved for Lebanon's army but not yet spent. At the time, lawmakers said they were blocking U.S. funding due to a deadly border clash between Lebanon and Israel.
According to An-Nahar, Lowey and Berman vehemently oppose the transfer of the funds, scheduled for next month, in light of the warm welcome with which Ahmadinejad was received in Lebanon.
On Wednesday, the U.S. expressed concern over Ahmadinejad's two-day visit to Lebanon, saying support for Hezbollah militants undermines Lebanese sovereignty.
Ahmadinejad is continuing his "provocative ways," the White House said in a statement Wednesday.
"He continues his provocative ways, even as he leaves his county in further economic stress and turmoil as a result of his actions that have led to international sanctions that are having a great impact," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
Gibbs was referring to UN Security Council sanctions placed on Iran over its alleged refusal to come clean about its nuclear activities suspected by the West as intended to develop a bomb. Tehran says the program is purely for peaceful purposes.
"We reject any efforts to destabilize or inflame tensions within Lebanon," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. "We would hope that no visitor would do anything or say anything that would give cause to greater tension or instability in that country."