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US: Lebanon must cut its banking ties to Hizballah

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah giving a televised address [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 January, 2018

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The Trump administration is taking measures to curb Hizballah financing sources.

A top US official said on Tuesday that Lebanon must cut Hizballah from its financial sector amidst Washington’s growing push to disrupt the group’s global financing routes.

During a two-day visit to Lebanon, US Treasury Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing Marshall Billingslea “stressed the importance of countering Iranian malign activity in Lebanon,” said a statement from the US embassy in London, reported by Reuters.

Although Washington classifies Hizballah a terrorist organization, the group is part of Lebanon’s unity government.

Billingslea’s visit follows measures in recent years to sever Hizballah’s funding sources – including the 2015 and 2017 Hizballah International Financing Prevention Acts.

But the US has had to consider the implications any measures might have on the country’s overall banking sector – which is crucial to the Lebanese economy.

During meetings with President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Billingslea said the US would cooperate with Lebanese authorities to support a “strong, stable and prosperous Lebanon”.

Earlier in January the Trump administration set up a team to investigate Hizballah-linked drug trafficking. The Obama administration had previously thwarted Hizballah drug prosecutions so as not to jeopardize the JCPO+1 nuclear deal with Iran, according to AP.

“These accusations are unjust, not based on any facts and have no truth” Hizballah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said during a televised address.

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