An Important Confirmation of the As-Safir Story
"BEIRUT, Lebanon: A senior Pentagon official said Thursday the U.S. military would like to see a "strategic partnership" with Lebanon's army to strengthen the country's forces so that Hezbollah would have no excuse to bear arms.
The comments by Eric Edelman, undersecretary of defense for policy, in an interview aired on Lebanese television two days after his visit, followed a published report in Beirut that Washington is proposing a treaty with Lebanon to make it a strategic partner to counter increased Russian influence in neighboring Syria.
The report, published by the opposition-leaning newspaper As-Safir, was at the time vigorously denied by the government and ridiculed by the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon.
"This is totally untrue, said Ahmed Fatfat, a leading member of the government team who holds the youth and sports portfolio, adding that Lebanon neither sought nor had the Americans asked for such a treaty.
Edelman's remarks, however, shed a new light on the emerging relationship between the Lebanese and U.S. militaries two months after the al-Qaida-inspired Fatah Islam group was crushed in a 3-month long battle......"