U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has assured Lebanon that the
United States will not forgo its support of the country as the U.S.
opens dialogue with Syria.
After meeting with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman in Beirut Sunday,
Clinton promised the continued U.S. support of the "voices of
moderation" in Lebanon.
Clinton also called for open and fair elections in Lebanon, without the
threat of intimidation or violence, and free of outside influence.
Lebanon is holding legislative elections June 7th.
Indications are the militant, Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah is gaining
support ahead of the elections. Washington designates Hezbollah as a
terrorist organization, and U.S. officials say they will review U.S.
policy to Lebanon depending on the elections' results.
Clinton also said the United States would never make a deal with Syria that is detrimental to Lebanon or its people.
The current Lebanese parliament has had tense relations with Syria,
following a series of assassinations of Lebanese politicians blamed on
Damascus. Syria denies the accusations.
The top U.S. diplomat traveled to Beirut after a similar unannounced visit to Baghdad Saturday, and a stop in Kuwait.
Clinton praised Iraqis for the unity they have shown in response to a
wave of suicide bombings that threaten to destabilize the country.
Suicide bombings Thursday and Friday killed more than 150 people. The
victims were mostly Shi'ite Muslims, including many Iranian pilgrims.
Clinton met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and President
Jalal Talabani, as well as other Iraqi officials, top U.S. military
commanders and the newly arrived U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Christopher
The trip to Iraq was her first since she became secretary of state.