Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday indicated the US was destabilizing the situation in Lebanon by shipping weapons to the Lebanese army for its fight against Islamic militants, earning a pointed rebuke from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Lavrov, speaking at a news conference of the Quartet group of Middle East peace negotiators in Berlin, was asked about the shipments and responded with a remark about "the necessity of avoiding weapons supplies that could destabilize the situation."
Rice, sitting just to his right at the German Foreign Ministry, responded quickly that the US was attempting to help rebuild the Lebanese army so it can defend the country's sovereignty against armed groups. Lebanese forces have been fighting Islamic militants since May 20 at a Palestinian refugee camp at Tripoli.
"The rebuilding of the Lebanese army is envisioned in any number of international agreements ... and that is what we are doing," Rice said. "We are supporting the Lebanese army, which is an all-Lebanese institution. It's not a matter of interfering in Lebanese affairs, it's an effort to help Lebanon to defend its own sovereignty."