Rice visits in Lebanon, refuses to meet president
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice paid a visit to Lebanon on Thursday, amid cals by anti-Syrian leaders to oust Lebanon's pro-Syrian president. Rice hinted the US thinks President Emile Lahoud should go, noting that the Lebanese "need a presidency that looks forward, not back, and that defends Lebanese sovereignty."
Asked if Lahoud is a barrier to progress and reforms, Rice replied, "The Lebanese people will have to decide what the obstacles to their progress are, but I think they do want to look forward."
Rice met Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora but will not see Lahoud on this visit. "My view is that the United States ought to be supporting the pro-Lebanese government," Rice said. "We'll be meeting with Prime Minister Saniora."
It should be mentioned that Rice met with Lahoud on her first visit to Lebanon as secretary of state last year.
Rice arrived in Beirut from Saudi Arabia, where she heard a refusal to join an American effort to deny foreign aid to a Palestinian government led by Hamas. “We wish not to link the international aid to the Palestinian people to considerations other than their dire humanitarian needs,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said, according to the AP.