"The road to solving Lebanon's problems passes through Damascus" Pelosi vows US 'will not bargain over Lebanon'
Daily Star staff
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
BEIRUT: US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Lebanese leaders on Monday that her country "will not bargain over Lebanon," adding that the US was "totally aware" of the situation in Lebanon. Local daily An-Nahar quoted Pelosi on Monday as saying that her visit to Damascus the next day "ought not to be considered as meaning a change in US policy concerning Lebanon."
American Democrats and the Republicans hold "the same stands concerning Lebanon, especially with regard to aids allotted to the Lebanese Army that were ratified by the US Congress," she said.
Sources close to Pelosi told An-Nahar that the speaker will inform Syria that Democrats support the establishment of an international court to try suspects in the February 2005 murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, in addition the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the summer 2006 war with Israel.
Pelosi said that she will tell Syria that America is "keen on preserving" Lebanese unity, but opposed to "any kind of foreign interference in Lebanese domestic issues."
told reporters after meeting with parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri on Monday.
Her visit to Syria does not fall within the framework of "illusions," but rather of "great hope," she said on Monday.
An-Nahar said that the minutes of Pelosi's meetings in Lebanon on Monday revealed that none of the figures with which the American official met expressed opposition to "the full implementation of Resolution 1701."
"However, Pelosi was able to sense the huge discrepancy in opinions concerning the make-up of the tribunal, even if both loyalist and opposition groups encouraged its [tribunal] formation," the sources said.
The sources added that Pelosi noticed that while Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri was "excited" about re-launching one-on-one talks with Hariri, Hariri "showed reluctance" regarding a resumption of negotiations for a solution to the crisis because of the continued refusal by Berri to convene a parliamentary session.
An-Nahar noted that US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman did not attend any of Pelosi's meetings on Monday, adding that he had left Lebanon on Saturday "for unknown reasons."
The US Embassy "did not divulge any information about Pelosi's visit to Lebanon, where it previously used to provide biographies and press releases following the visit of any US officials to Beirut," the paper said. - The Daily Star