16 February, 2018
Israel, for its part, has been warning that Iran - through Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Russian and Iranian-backed Assad regime in Syria - is turning both countries into forward bases to manufacture rockets and attack the Jewish state.
Following the meeting, the Secretary of State penned a note in the visitors' book, thanking Aoun for the warm welcome and vowing to "stand with the Lebanese people for a free and democratic Lebanon". Lebanon is upset about Israel's construction of a dividing wall along the border between the two countries, which are still technically at war. Any decision made by the United States concerning Hezbollah's status as a terrorist organization and its standing in Lebanon would have a large effect on the country and the situation vis a vis Israel.
Tillerson is the most senior official from the Trump administration to visit Lebanon and the first by a US secretary of state in four years.More news: Tillerson Believes 'Russian Meddling' in Foreign Elections Difficult to Preempt
Hizbullah's actions pose a threat to the security of Lebanon and have a destabilizing influence in the Middle East, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Thursday. "The people of Lebanon should also be concerned about how Hizbullah's actions, its growing arsenal, bring unwanted and unhelpful scrutiny on Lebanon", Tillerson said in Beirut after talks with Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
Washington's proposal was made by acting U.S. Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield, as a preview of the issues that Tillerson will discuss. USA officials have previously tried to mediate the dispute.
On the same day, Sheikh Nabil Kaouk, a former deputy head of Hezbollah's executive council, who led the group's forces in southern Lebanon during Israel's 18-years of occupation, said in Tehran that "the Israeli enemy is living under the nightmare of a Hezbollah incursion into the Galilee". In apparent reference to the maritime dispute, Tillerson said: "We've asked no one to give up anything".
Hariri for his part said: "What is ours is ours and what is Israel's is Israel's. Our democracy which will be reaffirmed in free and fair elections, 12 weeks from today", he added. This needs to stop.