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Pompeo says no double standard in Trump's Golan Heights decision

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Saturday that President Trump's move on the Golan Heights does not amount to a double standard. He made the remarks when asked about the U.S. stance on the Syrian territory that Israel officially seized in 1981 compared to U.S. policy on Russia regarding its annexation of Crimea. 

"You imposed sanctions on Russia for annexing Crimea," Hiba Nasr of Sky News said to Pompeo Saturday at the U.S. embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. "Now you are going to recognize the sovereign -- the Israeli sovereignty over these territories. Isn't this a double-standard policy?"

"No, not at all," Pompeo said. 

"What the president did with the Golan Heights is recognize the reality on the ground and the security situation necessary for the protection of the Israeli state. It's that - it's that simple."

He denied that Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights violated United Nations Security Council resolutions, saying "the decision the president made will increase the opportunity for there to be stability throughout the region."

President Trump made a surprise announcement on Twitter this week that he would recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

"After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel's Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!" Mr. Trump wrote on Thursday. 

Israel's annexation of the area is not recognized internationally. Several countries and the European Union have affirmed that they do not recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights since Mr. Trump's announcement.

The U.S. has strongly condemned Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea in the Ukraine, and issued sanctions against Russia in response.

Pompeo also said in his interview Saturday that Lebanese leadership supported the American position that Lebanon should not "succumb" to the influence of Iran and the terrorist group Hezbollah. Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, has significant political influence in Lebanon.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil denied that Hezbollah was a terrorist group on Friday, and said that it "enjoys a wide popular base," according to Al Jazeera.

Nonetheless, Pompeo said in his interview with Sky News that it was "false" and "wrong" to say that Lebanese leadership disagreed with him about Hezbollah.

"They understand -- President [Michel] Aoun, the foreign minister -- they both understand the need for Lebanese freedom, democracy, independence, sovereignty," Pompeo said.