World Bulletin/News Desk
Swedish, Bulgarian and Polish foreign ministers met politicians in Beirut on Friday in an EU-backed attempt to urge Lebanese political blocks to cooperate in preventing violence in neighbouring Syria spilling over the border.
"There is a clear worry (of a spillover). The worry is probably greater than we want to say it is," Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told Reuters.
Lebanon has seen clashes between supporters and opponents of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the border region has been used by rebels to smuggle arms into Syria and take refuge from Syrian troops.
"Lebanon is involved in a sensitive balancing act ...between the different forces in Lebanese society which are looking in different directions on the Syrian conflict," Bildt said ahead of meetings with Lebanon's President Michel Sleiman and Speaker Nabih Berri.
Lebanon's politicians are at odds over Syria, most agree that Syria's crisis has the potential to destabilize Lebanon.
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nickolay Mladenov said after the talks that he was encouraged by willingness expressed among the politicians to engage in keeping Lebanon insulated from the situation in Syria.
"Lebanon, which has gone through several wars and knows devastation but also the benefits of peace an development, must speak louder in support of democracy and in support of the need for people to avoid the violence which is now occurring in Syria," he told Reuters.
Bildt said the talks had made him more confident the blocks would be able to cooperate towards preventing the Syria unrest from spilling over to Lebanon.
Bildt said the European ministers had made no specific pledges on behalf of the EU, but said border control was one area where the EU might boost its support.
"There is an increased interest in helping with the building of state institutions," he said. "Border control is for example one area where we give some support but more needs to be done."
Noting that Lebanon is on the "frontline of the Syrian conflict", Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said: "The Middle East is even more in flux than usual, and while we have Syria sliding into civil war, the last thing we need is Lebanon to revert to the bad old ways."
Kuwait is looking to upgrade its firepower amid increased security concerns in the region linked to the rise of the extremist ISIL group
Nusra Front delivers 16 Lebanese soldiers via Red Cross as part of Qatar-supervised prisoner swap
Ambassador refutes claims pair are linked to Iranian Quds force
4,000 civilians in Iraq and Syria have been killed this year by airstrikes ostensibly targeting ISIL, UK-based NGOs say
London had suspended flights to Egypt’s Sharm al-Sheikh following crash of Russian passenger plane in October
'Naturally, if you ask Syrians they will tell you they don't want a peace conference in France... because France supports terrorism and war, not peace,' Syrian president says
Spokesman says countries conducting airstrikes must maximize measures to protect civilian lives
UAE would 'participate in any international effort demanding a ground intervention to fight terrorism', State Minister for Foreign Affairs says
Damascus's denial comes as growing number of countries have cast doubt on whether Syrian regime is truly making efforts to destroy its lethal arms
Local Turkmen commander asserts there are no Daesh militants in Syria's northwestern Bayirbucak region
Planned meeting of Syrian opposition groups in Riyadh in December could boost unity within opposition forces to enter talks on ending the conflict
PM Abadi's remarks come a day after American senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham advocated to nearly triple number of US troops in Iraq
France's top diplomat says it is 'obvious' Assad could not work alongside moderate opposition in Syria
Latest arrests come one day after four policemen are killed in drive-by shooting south of capital Cairo
Jewish state slaps Swede of Palestinian descent with 18 months for allegedly spying for Lebanese armed group
The destroyed bakery was serving 40,000 people per day, owners say