Hezbollah-controlled Lebanese government harms bilateral ties: Clinton

10:03, January 26, 2011      

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As a Hezbollah-backed candidate was named on Tuesday to head a new government in Lebanon, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned that such a move would clearly have an impact on bilateral relations.

"We are watching the situation closely and carefully in Lebanon, we are monitoring new developments," Clinton told reporters after meeting with visiting Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez at the State Department.

"As you know, the government formation is just beginning," she said. "A Hezbollah-controlled government would clearly have an impact on our bilateral relationship with Lebanon."

The top U.S. envoy said she discussed with Jimenez the " evolving situation" in Lebanon, where Spanish soldiers have served under the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.

"We both share deep concerns about the influence of outside forces," Clinton said. "Our bottomlines remain as they always have been. First, we believe that justice must be pursued and impunity for murder ended. We believe in Lebanon's sovereignty and an end to outside interference."

The United States sees the Hezbollah militant group, which has the support of Iran and Syria, as a terrorist organization.

Hezbollah-backed business tycoon and lawmaker Najib Mikati on Tuesday was appointed by President Michel Suleiman as prime minister designate, after he won majority support in the parliament, defeating the West-backed caretaker Saad Hariri.

Saad Hariri's coalition was toppled two weeks ago by Hezbollah over a standoff on his father's murder case.

Hezbollah had asked Saad Hariri to stop support for the UN- backed special tribunal set up to probe former prime minister Rafiq Hariri's assassination in 2005, but was rejected. The tribunal is widely expected to indict members of the Shiite group.

The United States has provided some 1.2 billion dollars in economic and military aid to Lebanon in the past five years, and the Obama administration has requested 246 million dollars more this year.

Source: Xinhua

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