Clinton makes brief Lebanon visit
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday made an unannounced visit to Lebanon where she met with President Michel Suleiman. "The people of Lebanon must be able to choose their own representatives in open and fair elections without the specter of violence or intimidation and free of outside interference," Clinton said in a brief statement given to reporters aboard her plane. "We join the international community in supporting the Lebanese government's efforts to achieve that goal," added Clinton, according to the AP.
"Beyond the elections we will continue to support the voices of moderation in Lebanon and the responsible institutions of the Lebanese state they are working hard to build. Our ongoing support for the Lebanese armed forces remains a pillar of our bilateral cooperation," she said.
Clinton was expected to stay only briefly in Beirut and meet with just one senior official, President Suleiman. She was not expected to see other politicians who will be candidates in the elections, like the Prime Minister Fuad Saniora.
She was to visit the tomb of ex-premier Rafik Hariri who was assassinated in a 2005 car bombing during her hours-long stay in Beirut.
On Thursday, Clinton voiced concerns over "a possible Hizbullah victory in the June legislative polls" and underlined the need for efforts to "boost the command of the current government." Clinton said recent arrests in Egypt of an alleged Hizbullah cell "served as a wake up" for the Egyptian authorities.