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Trump trips up over claims Lebanon on 'frontline' against Hezbollah

Trump trips up over claims Lebanon on 'frontline' against Hezbollah

Trump trips up over claims Lebanon on 'frontline' against Hezbollah

Well, it's great to have Prime Minister Hariri with us.

On Friday, Hezbollah worked with Syrian forces to push Islamist radicals off the Lebanese border. "But it's something I actually know quite a bit about", Trump said. "And we have an understanding with Hezbollah", Hariri said.

"We also discussed the pressures Lebanon is facing as a result of 1.5 million Syrian displaced in our country", he added.

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said last week that the next round of intra-Syria talks in Geneva will take place in early September.

After their oval meeting, Hariri and Trump held a press conference where everything seemed to be going according to plan until the US president was asked about Hezbollah - a political and military organization, who's also part of the Lebanese parliament.

Trump, in a joint press conference on Tuesday alongside Saad al-Hariri, said the Shia movement was a threat to the entire Middle East.

The response was met with silence from Sunni Prime Minister Hariri, for whom Hezbollah is a de facto power sharing partner under the Lebanese constitution, which guarantees Shia, Sunni and Christian representation at the highest levels of government.

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"America's assistance can help ensure that the Lebanese army is the only defender Lebanon needs", Trump told reporters after the meeting.

Syrian refugees are seen on the back of a pick up truck in the Lebanese eastern border town of Arsal as they head towards the Syrian region of Qalamoun on July 12, 2017.

This grant means the United States has given Lebanon more than $1.5 billion in humanitarian assistance since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2012, a State Department statement said. "With the support of Iran, the organisation is also fuelling humanitarian catastrophe in Syria".

He also expressed optimism about security cooperation with Lebanon but did not specify what level of support the United States would be providing. Initially, it was reportedly limited to non-lethal aid and training; later leaks in the media indicated various weaponry was also supplied to groups considered moderate.

"In Lebanon, we are fighting ISIS and al-Qaeda", the prime minister clarified.

Despite Hariri's concerns, Gebeily downplayed the risk that the legislation could destabilize Iran's banking industry, noting that the impact from the first round of Hezbollah sanctions in 2015 "was really nil".

During his Tuesday press conference with Hariri, Trump responded to a question asking for his stance on the sanctions bill by stating that he would make his position "very clear" within the next 24 hours.

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