Powell to Visit Lebanon, Syria; Hariri, al-Assad hold talks
US Secretary of State Colin Powell will travel Monday to Beirut and Damascus for short visits to review the escalating situation on the Lebanese Israeli border, the State Department said.
"He will be traveling to Beirut and Damascus tomorrow for discussions of another situation of urgent concern: firing across the UN line at Israel's northern border," spokesman Richard Boucher said Sunday in a statement.
After meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in Beirut and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Powell is to return to Jerusalem on Monday evening to continue his talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials, he said.
Earlier Sunday, a Lebanese official said Hariri had delayed a trip to the United States, where he is scheduled to meet President George W. Bush on Wednesday, to see Powell.
According to AFP, Powell will visit Syria and Lebanon against the backdrop of Hizbullah's almost daily attacks on Israeli border positions.
Ahead of Powell's arrival, Hariri went Sunday to Damascus, where he held talks with his Syrian counterpart, Mustafa Miro, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a Lebanese source said.
Hariri and Miro discussed "the criminal aggression" carried out by Israel against the Palestinian people, and "the need to support the intifada by all means," the source said.
On Sunday, some 1,000 women supporting Hizbullah demonstrated at the volatile border, condemning Israel's "massacres" against the Palestinian people in the West Bank.
As Powell met with Arafat Sunday, Hizbullah called on the Palestinian Authority not to buckle under US pressure. Hizbullah's deputy secretary general Naim Qassem paid tribute to the Palestinian fighters resisting "the Israeli crimes and massacres perpetrated with obvious US support and amid UN silence and Arab cowardice."
He called on Arafat's Palestinian Authority to "have confidence in its people, its resistance and the huge sacrifices it has made." He added the group had intensified its attacks to "bother Israel." (Albawaba.com)
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