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    » 06/17/2008, 00.00

    LEBANON

    Secretary Rice brings US backing to Suleiman and Siniora



    The US secretary of state’s short stop in Lebanon shows Washington is “present” in the Doha agreement and Lebanon’s presidential election. Clashes between pro- anti-government supporters in Bekaa Valley result in three dead and four wounded.

    Beirut (AsiaNews) – US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice openly backed Lebanon’s new president, Michel Suleiman, and the country’s democratic system; she also called on the United Nations to resolve a dispute over the Shebaa Farms, a 30 km2 sliver of land occupied by Israel and claimed by Lebanon.

    On a surprise, five-hour visit to Lebanon, in addition to President Suleiman Ms Rice met Prime Minister-designate Fuad Siniora, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and parliamentary majority leaders Saad Hariri, Walid Jumblatt and Amin Gemayel.

    Her first reason to visit Lebanon was to show US support for the new Lebanese president and approval of the Doha Agreement that made his elections possible.

    US solidarity with Lebanon’s pro-Western leaders is natural and US call for UN intervention on the Shebaa Farms issue is a way to buttress Siniora’s action.

    Never the less, the US secretary was able to avoid entanglements with the Hizbollah issue. In answering journalists as to whether Washington would recognise a Lebanese government that included Hizbullah representatives, Ms Rice reiterated that the United States had long ago listed this movement as a terrorist organisation and that nothing had changed in this regard. But she also added that forming a government in Lebanon was a Lebanese issue.

    In Lebanon however violence is again never too far away from politics. This morning three people were killed and four others wounded in armed clashes that raged in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley between pro- and anti-government supporters.

    Some reports indicate that rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and machine gunfire were used in the fighting that took place in the villages of Taalbaya and Saadnayel, forcing the army to move in to separate the contenders.

    The pro-majority Al-Mustaqbal daily said however that fighting had instead erupted after a quarrel broke out between Hizbullah and AMAL fighters on the one hand and Lebanese soldiers on the other. (PD)

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    See also

    06/03/2007 LEBANON
    More and more talk about a “Saudi” solution to Lebanon’s political crisis
    Saudi ambassador meets Lebanese leaders and returns home today to refer on discussions. Sources close to Nabih Berri expect that an agreement between government majority and opposition might be possible by the end of the week.

    15/02/2010 LEBANON
    Commemorating Rafik Hariri’s death, demanding answers from March 14 leaders
    More than 100,000 people gather to commemorate the death of former PM Hariri. Speaking to the crowds, leaders reiterate in measured tones the alliance’s goals. However, banners appear, asking, “What have you with my vote?”

    21/09/2007 LEBANON
    A country in mourning looks to the future with anxiety
    On the day Antoine Ghanem is laid to rest, the Lebanese government calls on the United Nations and the Arab League to protect the upcoming presidential election. Saad Hariri and Nabih Berri talk on the phone.

    16/01/2007 LEBANON
    Donors’ conference, cause of dissent between government and opposition
    As the prime minister seeks the support of Arab countries, the opposition raises the specter that economic reforms will lead to the permanent settlement of Palestinians in the country.

    17/05/2007 LEBANON
    Welch leaves Beirut confirming US support for Siniora and international tribunal
    US envoy met leaders from the majority coalition and the opposition as well as the prime minister and the speaker of the National Assembly. Envoy believes that objections by Lahoud and Hezbollah to trying suspects in Hariri murder can be surmounted. Russia’s attitude remains an open question.



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