U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that Lebanon is at risk because Iran is seeking to seize control over it, saying that the country is in jeopardy due to Tehran's ambitions.
“It’s at risk because the Ayatollah Khamenei and Qasem Soleimani and the Islamic Republic of Iran want to take over this country; they want to control this state; they want access to the Mediterranean; they want power and influence here," Pompeo said in an interview with Sky News Arabia during his two-day visit to Lebanon.
"The people of Lebanon deserve better than that, they want something different from that, and America is prepared to help. I think the world is prepared to help,” Pompeo stressed.
The U.S. official hailed Lebanon as a great nation with a proud history, noting that one of the things that he loves about it is its enormous religious diversity, and the people of all stripes.
“It’s a beacon of democracy throughout the world," he said.
“My trip here was to talk to leaders from every group and every religion to share with them that America is prepared to help continue to achieve the great, diverse, wonderful, rambunctious place that Lebanon is, and that they should know they need not succumb to the efforts of Hezbollah and Iran and Hassan Nasrallah,” Pompeo stressed.
When asked about the Lebanese prime minister and the Lebanese president’s different perspective on Hezbollah, Pompeo rebuffed the claim.
“I don't think that's true. I think that's false. President Aoun, the foreign minister, they both understand the need for Lebanese freedom, democracy, independence, sovereignty. They want those things for their people too. They live here," he said.
"Indeed, each of them told me that. They said, Mr. Secretary, we want that more than you do because we live here,” he added.
“They are just as determined as I am, and I appreciate that, I welcome that. I’m glad that they are working towards the same ends that America hopes for the Lebanese people."
"Hezbollah and Iran present an enormous threat to the people in the region, and we’re going to use the tools we have available to achieve outcomes that I know every nation, every leader as I travel the Middle East, is supportive of what it is we’re trying to achieve," he pledged.
Pompeo affirmed his country's determination to confront Iran’s malign activities which are spread everywhere.
“The United States is going to pursue it, whether that’s in South America, whether that’s in the Middle East. Wherever we find it, we are going to give it a push back," he assured.
"We want good things for the Iranian people, and their leadership has betrayed them. They have destroyed a once-proud nation and an economy that is now a wreck – not because of anything the world did but because of an enormous mismanagement of the theocracy,” he said.
“They’re running a revolutionary effort around the Middle East, creating havoc here in Lebanon and all around the Middle East."
“Our efforts will be everywhere. Our efforts will be intense. Our objective is noble: to help the Iranian people successfully retake the leadership and the governance of their own nation in the way I know they so richly deserve,” he emphasized.