The Prime Minister of Lebanon Saad Hariri flew to Washington D.C. to hold a joint press conference with the President of the United States Donald Trump. The dialogue was held at the White House on the 25th of July. It was mainly about the refugee crisis, the economy, and the fight against terrorism. Trump applauded Lebanon for having people of all faiths working together to keep the country safe and prosperous. He went on to say that the Lebanese people “do love their country.” He recounting the 150-year long history of Lebanon and the USA. Mentioned how American missionaries went to Lebanon and opened the American University of Beirut. Trump pledged support to the Lebanese Army so that it is the only “defender Lebanon needs.” The aim of this conference was to strengthen the relationship between the U.S. and Lebanon and to encourage other countries to support Lebanon. He thanked Lebanon and its people for taking it the most number of Syrian refugees per capita. Hariri thanked Trump and the USA for its support of the Lebanese Army, security agencies and for its contribution to UNIFIL in the South of Lebanon. He went on to say that they discussed the pressures Lebanon is facing as a result for 1.5 million (registered) Syrian refugees. He mentioned he discussed Lebanon’s future plans to tackle this with the support of the international community. He also discussed with Trump Lebanon’s inclusive plan to jumpstart economic growth with the particular emphasis on job creation in Lebanon. He thanked the American support to the Lebanese people “thriving to keep its country a model of moderation, dialogue, coexistence and democratic governance in our region.” When asked about the American support, Hariri said there would be continuing support including military support from the USA. The American president mentioned that Hezbollah is receiving a lot of weapons which “is a menace to the Lebanese state, the Lebanese people, and the entire region” – claiming that it works for its own self-interest and for the interest of its sponsor, Iran. Things got funny when Trump said that the Lebanese government is fighting against Hezbollah, which the U.S. considers it to be a terrorist organization. Trump claimed that Lebanon was on the frontlines of the fight on terrorism against “ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah.” The reality is that Hezbollah not only has a militia but is also a political party – which is currently in alliance with the President of Lebanon’s party. The look on Hariri’s face is everything. Later, PM Saad Hariri mentioned that the Lebanese government has a good relationship with Hezbollah. He added that Hezbollah “[is] in the parliament”.
Trump is notorious for his handshakes where he will yank and pull on the person’s hand – a show of power, by the way. It wasn’t the case during this meeting with Hariri. In fact, it seems that Hariri was anticipating it and actually lightly pulled on Trump’s hand. Reference the 18-minute mark in the video below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZXTcSdS9NU