U.S. considers slashing financial aid to Lebanon
That, she said, means supporting an international tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of Mr. Hariri’s father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Hezbollah wants to end cooperation with the tribunal, which is widely expected to indict some of the group’s members for the murder of Rafik Hariri and 22 other people in a massive truck-bomb attack.
The Lebanese government funds 49 percent of the budget for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, with U.N. member states picking up the rest of the tab.
“Our bottom lines remain as they always have been,” Mrs. Clinton said. “First, we believe that justice must be pursued and impunity for murder ended. We believe in Lebanon’s sovereignty and end to outside interference. As we see what this new government does, we will judge it accordingly.”
“The work of the tribunal is of vital importance to stability, security and justice in Lebanon, and it is important that it continue,” he said. “It is hard to imagine any government that is truly representative of all of Lebanon would abandon the effort to end the era of impunity for assassinations in the country.”
The U.S. has provided Lebanon with hundreds of millions of dollars in economic and military aid over the past five years, following the withdrawal of Syrian forces that had controlled the country for decades.
The United States called the fragile Lebanese democracy a counterweight to authoritarian and militant influences in the Middle East and argued that without U.S. support Iran or Syria might fill the vacuum.
Congressional critics of that policy cite a worry that the weapons and equipment could slip into the hands of Hezbollah for use against Israel. Hezbollah, which forced the collapse of the Lebanese coalition government last week, fought a monthlong war with Israel in August 2006.