Lebanese PM to visit Washington at end of May: report

08:53, May 12, 2010      

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Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is due to visit Washington and New York at the end of this month to discuss Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah's arms, local daily As Safir reported on Tuesday.

The newspaper quoted well informed U.S. sources as saying that Hariri will hold talks with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington during the last week of May.

Hariri will also meet U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other officials in the Congress.

According to the sources, Hariri's visit to Washington will focus on discussing Hezbollah's arms and particularly reports suggesting that Syria has transferred Scud missiles to the Lebanese Shiite political and armed group.

The newspaper quoted Hariri as saying that he supports Hezbollah's attempts to rearm including receiving Scud missiles to face Israeli attacks and defend Lebanon's sovereignty.

Hariri lately compared Scud transfer allegations with U.S. allegations that the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction.

Hezbollah, who fought a devastating war against Israel in 2006, is the only Lebanese faction which keeps its heavy arms under the pretext of resisting Israel. It has vowed to keep its arms as long as Israel poses a threat in the region.

Diplomatic sources in Beirut also told As Safir that Hariri would also visit the UN headquarters in New York for talks with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and address the Security Council during a session on the dialogue of civilizations.



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