January 12, 2011 / 7:16 PM / 10 years ago

No immediate cutoff of U.S. aid to Lebanese forces

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - There will be no immediate cutoff of U.S. aid to Lebanon’s armed forces after resignations that toppled the government of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, a State Department spokesman said on Wednesday.

Washington will wait to see what government emerges in Lebanon, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters. Asked whether there would be any immediate cutoff of U.S. assistance to the Lebanese armed forces, he said, “No.”

Ministers from the Shi’ite group Hezbollah and its allies resigned on Wednesday, forcing the collapse of the government of Hariri, son of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, who was assassinated in 2005.

The United States has provided more than $720 million in aid to the Lebanese army since 2006.

Earlier Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Lebanon’s crisis was a transparent attempt to subvert justice.

But, speaking in Doha, Qatar, where she was attending a meeting of regional leaders, Clinton vowed that the work of a U.N.-backed tribunal investigating the assassination of Rafik al-Hariri would go on.

Crowley, at a State Department briefing in Washington, said the United States wanted to see a new Lebanese government emerge in a peaceful environment.

“We want to see that government formed through the normal processes, under the Lebanese constitution. We want to see it happen peacefully and free of any outside interference or any further intimidation tactics as we have seen in Lebanon in recent weeks and months,” he said.

“These are decisions to be made inside Lebanon,” Crowley said, adding that the United States would not interfere.

Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Doina Chiacu

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