In a Friday interview with the Free Lebanon radio station, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said that he will not be able to attend the rescheduled June 17 session of the national dialogue for personal reasons.

He added that he was informed three weeks ago of the new date of the national dialogue session.

Geagea also said that the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) would work to defend Lebanon, adding that Hezbollah only defends Tehran’s interests in the region since it is part of Iran’s military wing in Lebanon.

The LAF’s special forces units are stronger than Hezbollah’s, the LF leader added.

This comes after Geagea on Tuesday criticized President Michel Sleiman’s Monday interview with Al-Manar television, during which the president voiced his commitment to the Ministerial Statement clause that the Lebanese army, people and Resistance are all legitimate means of facing repeated Israeli threats.

Whoever is not comfortable with the LF’s presence in the Lebanese government can simply leave the cabinet, Geagea said, in reference to the recent criticism leveled against him.

March 8 coalition figures have slammed the LF leader for his accusing Sleiman of siding with one particular party—a possible reference to Hezbollah—during the national defense strategy talks. On Thursday, Loyalty to the Resistance bloc MP Nawwaf Moussawi said anyone who objects to President Michel Sleiman’s remarks on the Resistance can withdraw from the cabinet.

Geagea also voiced hope that Sleiman would consider the points of view of the rest of the Lebanese regarding the national defense strategy.

He also asked the Free Patriotic Movement to separate domestic politics from the issue of Lebanon’s defense strategy.