Tillerson considers Hezbollah as 'part of political process' in Lebanon

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Tillerson's visit, the first by a U.S. Secretary of State to Lebanon since 2014, got off to an awkward start as he waited several minutes in Baabda Palace for his meeting with President Michel Aoun, a Hezbollah ally.

Aoun called on the United States to "work on preventing Israel from continuing its assaults on Lebanese sovereignty", saying Beirut sticks to its internationally-recognized borders and dismissed Israeli claims to a disputed maritime zone.

Tillerson says it us unacceptable for a militia like Hezbollah to operate outside the authority of the Lebanese government. On Wednesday, speaking in Amman, Tillerson had appearing to soften Washington's tone, conceding that Hezbollah is part of the "political process" in Lebanon.

Tillerson "reaffirmed to Berri the importance of the close U.S".

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"We try to be very precise in the actions we take to not harm the Lebanese people", he said during an interview with Al Hurra TV. Commenting on the proposal, however, Aoun said that Lebanon will not give Israel a "millimeter".

Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat said on Thursday that President Michel Aoun has "given his remarks" to visiting USA secretary of state Rex Tillerson, noting that he sees "positivity" in Tillerson's statements. Earlier in the day, he met with key allies of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group including the president and parliament speaker.

Israel has recently escalated its threats over Lebanon's invitation for offshore gas exploration bids along the countries' maritime border.

The tripartite meetings between Lebanon's three leaders also touched on Israel's construction of a 23-foot concrete wall along the blue line between the two countries, which Israel deems falls entirely on its side of the United Nations -recognized border.

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