US decries Hezbollah's withdraw from Hariri's government
The United States strongly criticized Hezbollah's walkout Wednesday from Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri's government, calling it an act of "fear" that undermines the will of the Lebanese people, dpa reported.
The White House statement came after Hariri met with President Barack Obama to discuss promoting Lebanon's sovereignty and moving forward with the international tribunal investigating the assassination of Hariri's father, former prime minister Rafik Hariri.
"The efforts by the Hezbollah-led coalition to collapse the Lebanese government only demonstrate their own fear and determination to block the governments ability to conduct its business and advance the aspirations of all of the Lebanese people," the White House said.
Lebanon's national unity government collapsed after the Shiite militant group and its allies walked out of Hariri's cabinet because the UN probe is expected to charge senior Hezbollah members. Hezbollah denies any involvement in the 2005 assassination and has urged Hariri to ignore the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Hariri has refused to comply.
Obama and Hariri emphasized their commitment to strengthening Lebanons sovereignty and independence free from the influence of Syria and Iran, the White House said. The two countries are backers of Hezbollah.
"The president and prime minister expressed their determination to achieve both stability and justice in Lebanon during this challenging period of government volatility, and agreed that all parties should avoid threats or actions that could cause instability," the White House said.
Hezbollah and its allies say the UN tribunal amounts to a US- Israeli conspiracy against the group. Hezbollah had given Hariri until Wednesday to convene a special meeting of the cabinet or face the walkout, even as he was travelling abroad.
The standoff between Hariri's camp and Hezbollah over the tribunal has paralysed the government for months and sparked worries of resurging sectarian violence that brought the country close to civil war in 2008.