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hariri quits

Prime Minister Saad Hariri will make his first official visit to the United States at the end of May to meet with President Barack Obama and address the UN Security Council, a government official said on Tuesday.

“The prime minister will make his first official visit to Washington and New York later this month,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP. “He will meet with President Obama and address the UN Security Council.”

Lebanon currently heads the UN Security Council.

Hariri’s five-day visit which will kick off in Washington on May 24 comes amid mounting concerns in the region of a renewed conflict between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah which fought a devastating war in 2006.

Israel and Washington have recently accused the militant group of stockpiling increasingly sophisticated weapons through the porous Syrian-Lebanese border.

Israel’s President Shimon Peres said last month the weapons include long-range Scud missiles.

Damascus has denied smuggling weapons to the Shiite group.

Hezbollah, which has two ministers in the current Lebanese cabinet, has for its part refused to confirm or deny the allegations.

The Shiite party is the only faction in Lebanon that refused to disarm following the end of the country’s 1975-1990 civil war, claiming that its weapons are needed to defend the country against any Israel aggression. AFP

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