BEIRUT: The U.S Ambassador to Lebanon warned Tuesday of Hezbollah's presence in the Cabinet during a meeting with Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
Ambassador Elizabeth Richard labeled Hezbollah's presence as a detriment to Lebanon's stability yet expressed "delight" at a new government finally being formed.
The U.S is concerned with Hezbollah's growing role in the cabinet while also operating as "a militia" out of the control of the government, she said.
"[Hezbollah] continues to make its own national security decisions – decisions that endanger the rest of the country. And that continues to violate the government’s disassociation policy by participating in armed conflict in at least three other countries," Richard said.
Hezbollah was able to appoint three ministers in the new government, including the Health Ministry which relies heavily on international aid in a move criticized by both Lebanese and western officials.
The Iranian backed group is designated by the U.S as a terrorist organization and has been handed down severe sanctions aimed at cutting off their funding and access to the banking sector.
Last month, Marshall Billingslea, the assistant secretary for terrorist financing in the U.S. Treasury Department, had expressed concerns that Hezbollah would exploit these ministries to funnel money to "fund their terrorist operations.
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