US ambassador, Lebanon foreign minister to meet after Hezbollah comments


Lebanese Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti has summoned U.S. Ambassador Dorothy Shea to Beirut over recent comments Shea made condemning the militant group Hezbollah.

At the meeting, scheduled for Monday, Nitti will tell Shea the comments run afoul of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties by interfering in a sovereign nation’s internal affairs, according to The Associated Press, citing local media.

After Shea told Al-Hadath, a Saudi-owned media outlet, that the U.S. has “great concerns” over the Shia group’s role in the Lebanese government, a judge banned domestic and foreign media outlets from interviewing her for a year, The Associated Press reported.

Shea also said the country’s ongoing financial crisis is in part the result of Hezbollah, which dominates the country’s parliament, redirecting government funds. While the U.S. considers Hezbollah a terrorist group, Washington is also one of the Lebanese military’s biggest financial donors, according to the AP.

Several Lebanese TV stations have since aired comments from Shea criticizing the ruling as “unfortunate” and that an unnamed senior Beirut official had privately apologized to her.

“I was contacted yesterday afternoon by a very high-ranking and a well-placed official in the Lebanese government and this official expressed apologies, conveyed that this ruling did not have proper standing,” Shea told the local MTV station Sunday, according to the AP.

Shea said the unnamed official had also assured her the Lebanese government “will take the necessary step to reverse” the decision.

Lawmaker Hassan Fadlallah, a member of Hezbollah, called Shea’s remarks “a flagrant aggression on the sovereignty of our country and its national dignity,” according to the AP, saying the foreign ministry should force her to “respect international law.”

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