US warns against ‘outside interference’ in Lebanon’s politics


The United States has warned against “outside interference” in Lebanon’s politics.

It comes in the wake of the collapse of the Lebanese national unity government on Wednesday after Shia militant group Hezbollah and its allies withdrew their Ministers from the Cabinet over the disputed U.N.-backed probe into the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Responding to a question at a joint press conference with Qatar Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani in Qatari capital Doha on the role Syria has played in the political development in the neighboring country, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said: “The Lebanese people need to be empowered in order to solve their own issues without outside interference or without threats from within Lebanon.”

She said “it’s in everyone’s interest, whether it be different elements within Lebanon or Syria or any of the neighbors and many of us who care deeply about what happens to the Lebanese people, to come together….. to play a responsible and positive role” to protect Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence.

Pledging solidarity with the people and government of Lebanon, she sad the U.S. government was “consulting closely with concerned parties and nations on the best way forward” in the wake of the fall of the Lebanese government.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri met with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on Wednesday.

There has been reports on the role Syria played in Lebanon with some evidence that they have tried to undermine the unity government. Senior Syrian officials have talked about removing authority from the government, which evoked criticism by American officials.

Clinton said during her meetings with officials of Qatar and other Gulf countries in the GCC forum, she had discussed a number of issues related to Gulf security and stability. She underlined America’s “unwavering commitment” to the security of the Gulf region and pledged continued support to its partners, including Qatar, “as they work to address threats and create the conditions for long-term peace, prosperity, and human progress.”

Clinton said she had also discussed Iran and the threat that its nuclear activity posed to the region and the world. The United States will continue to work with the international community toward a settlement that will hold Iran to its responsibilities to assure that its program is peaceful.

When the members of the P-5+1 meet in Istanbul later this month with Iran, they will focus on practical steps that Iran must take to address the concern of the international community.

Clinton urged the Islamic Republic to come to the Istanbul meeting prepared for these serious discussions.

She appreciated the efforts made by Qatar to resolve the ongoing conflict in Darfur.