The visit by a US security delegation to the Masnaa, on the Lebanese Syrian border area last Wednesday created a lot of confusion in Lebanon specially since this visit took place after the reports of Scud missiles being shipped from Syria to Hezbollah.
An unnamed US Embassy in Lebanon official issued a statement on Friday that the Lebanese government invited and coordinated with the US security delegation that visited the Masnaa border area .
The official said the delegation of the US State Department’s Antiterrorism Assistance Program (ATA) visited Lebanon to assess training programs administered by the US in cooperation with the Lebanese state, adding that the trip has been planned since March in coordination with the Interior Ministry, General Security, Customs and Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).
This comes after the Interior Ministry on Thursday denied that it authorized the visit and added that General Security head General Wafiq Jezzini rejected As-Safir’s Thursday report that the US delegation held two meetings with the head of the Masnaa Intelligence Office. Several Lebanese politicians and parties—including Amal MP Qassem Hashem and the Progressive Socialist Party—criticized the visit.
The official also said that representatives from the US embassy met with Jezzini on Tuesday to discuss the delegation’s visits to Masnaa and the port of Beirut. “We coordinate with the foreign ministry in the planning of visits by US officials and of meetings with Lebanese government officials when appropriate and in accordance with international diplomatic practices and norms,” the official added.
According to the official, “The ATA program trains Lebanese government security and law enforcement personnel in police procedures that deal with terrorism.”
The official denied that the delegation inspected the facilities in Masnaa.