BEIRUT - Lebanon's foreign minister has rebuffed a call by the US ambassador for the Beirut government to protect all Syrians who have fled across the border into Lebanese territory.
The diplomatic spat illustrates Lebanon's difficulties in dealing with the crisis in its neighbor Syria, which once controlled it and still has powerful allies in its government.
US envoy Maura Connelly visited Interior Minister Marwan Charbel on Tuesday and, while noting Lebanon's right and responsibility to secure its borders, urged the authorities to protect "all disarmed Syrians, including members of the (rebel) Free Syrian Army", according to the embassy's website.
She also "reaffirmed the United States' concern for the disappearance and kidnappings of Syrian nationals in Lebanon".
Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour, who is close to the pro-Syrian Amal faction, responded sharply. "Lebanon cannot heed such a request ... Lebanon does not act upon a request, but out of self-interest for the country's security," he said.