Tillerson left waiting for Lebanese PM, signaling growing tensions

Middle East Affairs/In his current tour of the Middle East, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived to a meeting Thursday at the Lebanese presidential palace, only to be left waiting without a greeting.

Reuters reports Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil did not meet Tillerson at the door of the palace, as would be custom. Instead, Tillerson sat in a room next to an empty chair for several minutes before Bassil finally appeared to shake his hand.

This could signal icy relations forming between the two countries.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun is Bassil’s father-in-law and an ally of Hezbollah, an Iran-backed political group.

The U.S. has deemed Hezbollah as a terrorist group.

After a meeting later that day with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri, Tillerson told reporters — with Hariri at his side — that Lebanon’s security was threatened by Hezbollah’s growing arsenal.

He urged Lebanese leaders to keep the country out of neighboring conflicts, which refers to Hezbollah’s presence in the Syrian civil war.

He also said the United States was working with Lebanon and Israel to keep tensions at a low.

The two have been butting heads lately as Israel plans to build a wall at the border and Lebanon has decided to search for oil and gas in an offshore block in disputed waters, according to Reuters.

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