AFP: The United States on Monday urged its citizens in Lebanon to remain vigilant during the Iranian president’s high-profile visit to the country this week, warning of possible demonstrations and violence.
BEIRUT (AFP) — The United States on Monday urged its citizens in Lebanon to remain vigilant during the Iranian president’s high-profile visit to the country this week, warning of possible demonstrations and violence.
“The embassy reminds US citizens that even peaceful gatherings can turn violent and spread over neighborhoods with little or no warning,” the US embassy in Lebanon said in a statement.
“The embassy therefore strongly urges US citizens visiting or residing in Lebanon to remain vigilant, monitor news reports, avoid large gatherings of people, and carefully consider their safety and security before choosing to visit popular gathering spots or places where large numbers of people are commonly found,” it added.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is due in Beirut on Wednesday for a controversial two-day official visit, the highlight of which will be a tour of the country’s southern border with his arch-enemy Israel.
The region is largely controlled by the powerful militant group Hezbollah, which fought a devastating war with Israel in 2006 and is considered a proxy of Iran.
The United States and Israel, which are locked in a long-running feud with Iran over its controversial nuclear program, have voiced concern over the visit with the Israeli government saying it could undermine regional stability.
Washington last week renewed a travel warning for Americans seeking to visit Lebanon and those living in the country especially in light of a political crisis that has prompted fears of sectarian violence.
Tensions have been mounting in Lebanon in recent weeks over unconfirmed reports that a UN-backed tribunal is set to indict members of the powerful Shiite militant group Hezbollah for the 2005 murder of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri.
“The Department of State continues to urge US citizens to avoid all travel to Lebanon due to current safety and security concerns,” it said in a statement. “US citizens living and working in Lebanon should understand that they accept risks in remaining and should carefully consider those risks.”