U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is seeking to open channels of communication to Hezbollah in Lebanon “through mediators.”
“These are the American pragmatists,” Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in an interview with Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV, and reported by Israeli news group Haaretz.
There was no immediate comment from the U.S. State Department on the possible assertion.
New sanctions this week marked the first time the United States has targeted lawmakers of the heavily-armed Shi’ite Hezbollah, which is part of Lebanon’s coalition government.
The U.S. Treasury added three Hezbollah figures to its sanctions list, including two Lebanese MPs and a security official.
The move widens a U.S. campaign that since 2017 has designated 50 people and entities linked to Hebzollah, which Washington classifies as a “terrorist” organization.
Nasrallah called the new sanctions “an honour” that came as “part of the ongoing battle” against Hezbollah and its allies, the Haaretz report said.
“What’s new is the affront to the Lebanese state,” Nasrallah said.
“At the end of the day, Hezbollah is an important part of the country. The Lebanese government will tell the Americans, as it has before, that these are a part we cannot ignore.”
A U.S. State Department official said on Tuesday that the message was that the rest of the Lebanese government “needs to sever its dealings” with these officials.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said on Wednesday that the sanctions moved in a “new direction,” but would not affect government work.
“The important thing is to preserve the banking sector and the Lebanese economy and, God willing, this crisis will pass sooner or later,” he said.
According to a report this week in the New Yorker, Lebanon’s economic dysfunction is coming to a head, as its political leaders try to impose austerity measures on a restive public, while failing to enact anti-corruption measures that France, the World Bank, and the country’s other primary foreign donors insist on to reform a political system renowned for its graft and dysfunction.
Lebanon ranks a hundred and thirty-eighth out of a hundred and eighty nations in the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index, released by the global anti-corruption group Transparency International, the New Yorker reported.
Nearly thirty years after the country’s civil war ended, its people still endure rolling power blackouts owing to corruption and inefficiency in the country’s state-dominated power company.