Rice makes unannounced visit to Lebanon

She will be the highest ranking U.S. official to see Suleiman since he was elected last month and it is her first visit to Lebanon since the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah.

Rice makes unannounced visit to Lebanon
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made an unannounced visit to Lebanon on Monday and said she wanted to support the country's democracy following a power-sharing deal last month that ended 18 months of political crisis.

"I also am going to express the United States' support for Lebanese democracy, for Lebanese sovereignty, and to talk about how the United States can support the institutions of a free Lebanon," Rice told reporters as she flew to Beirut.

Rice plans to meet Lebanese President Michel Suleiman as well as Prime Minister-designate Fouad Siniora, parliament speaker Nabih Berri and majority leader Saad Hariri.

She will be the highest ranking U.S. official to see Suleiman since he was elected last month and it is her first visit to Lebanon since the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah.

Asked if she thought there was bad blood between the United States and Lebanon, she said: "I don't think there is bad blood between the United States and Lebanon, quite the contrary. The United States played a pivotal role in helping to end the war in 2006."

Many Lebanese were angered by the United States' unwillingness to demand an immediate ceasefire in the conflict and derided her view at the time that the war was part of the "birth pangs of the new Middle East".

Reuters
Last Mod: 16 Haziran 2008, 17:36
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