Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Clinton begins visit to Lebanon

By Kim Ghattas
BBC News, Lebanon

US secretary of State Hillary Clinton has arrived in Beirut for talks with the Lebanese President Michel Suleiman.

She will also visit the tomb of assassinated former PM Rafiq Hariri, killed in a bomb attack in 2005.

It is Mrs Clinton's first ever visit to Lebanon and the well-travelled former First Lady and New York senator said she was anxious to see the country.

Mrs Clinton was in Baghdad on Saturday where she insisted the US was committed to supporting Iraq.

In Beirut she will hold talks with Lebanese leaders and lay a wreath on the tomb of Mr Hariri.

His assassination, blamed by many on Damascus, triggered massive demonstrations which put an end to years of Syrian control over Lebanon.

The protest movement was backed by the Bush administration.

Mrs Clinton's short stop here comes at a sensitive time. Legislative elections are due in June and it is expected that Syria and its allies, like Hezbollah, will make a comeback in the polls.

The new US administration is worried about the growing power of Hezbollah but is keen not to be seen as interfering in the elections.

Mrs Clinton is accompanied by the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, a former ambassador to Beirut.

Messenger has tons of new features that make chatting more fun. Click here to learn more.