Biden in Beirut: US aid depends on outcome of election
US Vice President Joe Biden, the most senior American official to visit Beirut in more than 25 years, noted Friday his country will evaluate its future aid to Lebanon based on the policies of the government that will be formed following the June 7 vote. "The U.S. will evaluate the shape of its assistance program based on the composition of the new government and the policies it is advocating," Biden said following his talks with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman.
"The U.S. looks forward to the shape and composition of the Lebanese government which is for the Lebanese to decide," he went on to say, according to AFP. In addition, he called for "fair, free and transparent elections," and warned that "Lebanese sovereignty cannot and will not be traded away."
Biden said the White House is committed to a comprehensive peace in the region that benefits all people in the region, including the Lebanese. "Washington is committed to ensuring the strength of the military institutions in Lebanon," he said, adding that he "cannot imagine peace in the region without Lebanon."
According to Biden, his visit to Lebanon was not directed at interfering in the country's internal politics. "I did not come here to back any party," he stressed.
Biden called on "those who think about standing with the spoilers of peace not to miss this opportunity to walk away."
"It's not an accident that the president asked me to come to Lebanon to personally demonstrate to you our commitment to Lebanon is meaningful and it's real," he said.
On his part, Hizbullah MP Hassan Fadlallah accused Biden of coming to meddle in Lebanon's internal affairs ahead of the elections. "It appears that this visit is part of a U.S. bid to supervise the electoral campaign of a Lebanese party which feels threatened politically ... in light of the expected outcome of the legislative vote," Fadlallah told AFP.