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."
The police raid provokes a firestorm from journalists, who stage a sit-in amid calls for sacking the interior minister
''The target date for the transition is first of August,' Kerry says
'Participants will meet... on Wednesday in a plenary session to follow up with the agreed agenda,' UN envoy says
Kurdish peshmerga forces and Hashd al-Shaabi militiamen had recaptured Bashir village from ISIL last week
'Aleppo is burning and it is crucial that we focus on this top priority issue,' British envoy says
UN panel says 'the use of solitary confinement in Israeli jails has doubled between 2012 and 2014,' with the number of people held in isolation jumping from 390 to 755 over the period
Ahrar al-Sham’s deputy leader says group has blocked Moscow’s aims in Syria
Israeli customs officials say chemicals could be used to make long-range rockets
Both Kerry and Lavrov have "agreed on new measures to be taken by Moscow and Washington", to stop the onslaught in Syria
Iran's Minister for Industry, Mining and Trade has said that as part of expanding economic relations, entry into the auto industry will be a win win for both countries
Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed has met both government and rebel delegations in a bid to find a swift resolution to the dispute over the rebels' seizure of the Al-Amaliqa base despite an April 11 ceasefire
Raqqa in Syria has been targeted in another strike however there is no word on was behind the attacks
Criticism follows raids on labor union building in Cairo and arrest of journalists
Conversation follows US, Russia agreement on new short-term truce for parts in Syria
US Secretary of State says the Syrian crisis is 'deeply disturbing to everybody in the world'
Park Geun-Hye in Tehran as the first South Korean president to visit Iran since the two countries established diplomatic relations