US Secretary of State kept waiting at Lebanese palace

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (left) meets with Lebanese President Michel Aoun at the presidential palace in Baadba on the outskirts of the capital Beirut on February 15, 2018. — AFP pic
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (left) meets with Lebanese President Michel Aoun at the presidential palace in Baadba on the outskirts of the capital Beirut on February 15, 2018. — AFP pic

BEIRUT, Feb 15 — US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was kept waiting at Lebanon’s presidential palace for several minutes before his Lebanese counterpart greeted him ahead of talks with President Michel Aoun today.

Television footage showed Tillerson sitting in a room alongside an empty seat before his Lebanese counterpart Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil walked in and shook his hand, in what appeared to be a departure from diplomatic norms.

Tillerson was in Lebanon, a major recipient of US military aid, as part of a regional tour. Bassil had not greeted Tillerson at the entrance of the palace when his convoy arrived, a Reuters witness said.

Aoun, Bassil’s father-in-law, is a political ally of the Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah, which is deemed a terrorist group by the United States.

Tillerson is also due to meet Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri. — Reuters

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