WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump will meet Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Washington next week for talks on issues including refugees and combating terrorism, the White House announced Friday.
Analysts also anticipate US aid will be high on the agenda of the July 25th talks at the White House, which has made clear its intent to slash its aid budget for Lebanon, on grounds that national forces there have not adequately applied US military support towards reining in terrorist group Hezbollah.
“The two leaders will discuss issues of mutual concern, including the fight against terrorism, the economy and refugees,” the White House said in a statement.
“This meeting will serve as an important opportunity to strengthen the bilateral relationship,” the statement said, adding that the talks “will encourage other international and regional partners to support Lebanon as it faces a wide range of challenges.”
The announcement comes days after US Ambassador Nikki Haley accused the Lebanon-based Hezbollah of amassing weapons and urged the international community to dial up pressure on the powerful paramilitary organization to disarm.
There has been speculation about the possibility of a new war between Iran-backed Hezbollah and Israel, more than a decade after their last direct confrontation.
On Thursday members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee introduced legislation aimed at bolstering sanctions targeting Hezbollah, dubbing the group a threat to Israel’s security and criticizing its role as an active ally of President Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria.