U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned other countries on Friday against using Lebanon for “proxy conflicts” following a crisis triggered by resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
Mr. Tillerson called Mr. Hariri, who announced his resignation last Saturday from Saudi Arabia, a “strong partner” of the United States.
“The United States cautions against any party, within or outside Lebanon, using Lebanon as a venue for proxy conflicts or in any manner contributing to instability in that country,” Mr. Tillerson said in a statement.
Mr. Hariri, whose resignation came as a shock to many, accused Hezbollah, the powerful Shiite movement that is part of his government but also close to Iran, of controlling Lebanon.
Many observers saw his stepping down as being directed by Saudi Arabia, Iran’s big rival in the region.
Earlier on Friday, while traveling in Asia, Mr. Tillerson told reporters he had received assurances from the Saudis that Hariri himself had decided to resign.
Mr. Tillerson also said he had no indication that Mr. Hariri was being held against his will in the oil-rich kingdom.
Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Friday accused Saudi Arabia of detaining Mr. Hariri and of asking the Shiite movement’s archfoe Israel to launch strikes on Lebanon.