John Kerry called Lebanon’s new Hezbollah-aligned president on Tuesday, congratulating a politician whose election has been hailed by Hezbollah’s patron, Iran, as a boost for the U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization and for the Assad regime.
“He did call President [Michel] Aoun this morning to congratulate him,” State Department spokesman John Kirby confirmed, “and to reaffirm our commitment to the future of a bilateral relationship with Lebanon and our desire to see – now that the Lebanese people have a chief executive – to see that Lebanon can move forward.”
Kirby did not say what the two discussed, although the Beirut Daily Star said Aoun urged Kerry “to keep providing Lebanon with military aid.”
U.S. taxpayers have provided around $1.4 billion to the Lebanese army and police since 2005.
In a move that ended a two-and-a-half year impasse in Lebanon’s byzantine and unpredictable political system, lawmakers on Monday voted to install Aoun, a former army chief, as the country’s president.