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US envoy Mitchell visits Beirut, Damascus

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-06-12

United States envoy George Mitchell stops off in Beirut on Friday to meet with President Michel Sleiman, Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and majority coalition leader Saad Hariri. Mitchell is also expected in Damascus as part of his Mideast peace tour.

AFP - US envoy George Mitchell arrived in Beirut on Friday on the latest leg of a tour aimed at reviving the stalled Middle East peace process.
   
Mitchell was holding separate meetings with President Michel Sleiman, Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and Saad Hariri, leader of the US-backed coalition that retained its majority in a closely-fought parliamentary election on Sunday.
   
He is expected to reassure Lebanese leaders of continued US support for the small Mediterranean country despite US President Barack Obama's recent overtures to Damascus and Tehran.
   
On a visit to Beirut ahead of the vote, Vice President Joe Biden had hinted that Washington may cut off military aid if a coalition led by the Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hezbollah won.
   
Damascus was Lebanon's powerbroker for nearly three decades until it was forced to pull out its troops from the country in the aftermath of the 2005 assassination of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri, Saad's billionaire father.
   
Mitchell was due to head later on Friday to Damascus, where he will hold talks with Syrian leaders.

Date created : 2009-06-12

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