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Lebanese PM: Hopeful on peace efforts

May 25, 2010 09:37

Hariri visits Washington, says "clock is ticking" on ME agreement.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri

saad hariri 311. (photo credit:AP)

WASHINGTON — Lebanese Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri told US President Barack Obama on Monday that the "clock is ticking" on the Mideast peace process and that failure to reach an agreement will lead to additional violence and extremism in the region.

On his first official White House visit as premier, Hariri said he told Obama during an Oval Office meeting that Lebanon is hopeful about his efforts to secure a lasting peace between the Palestinians and Israelis. The two sides recently began participating in indirect peace talks.

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But the prime minister said he told Obama about a "pervasive frustration and skepticism" in the Muslim world regarding the issue and that the "clock is ticking ... against all those who believe in a just peace."

Hariri's visit came amid regional tensions over claims by Israel that Hizbullah has acquired Scud missiles transferred from Syria.

Syria denied the accusations and Hariri has compared them to the false American charges that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction ahead of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

The Iranian-backed Hizbullah has refused to confirm or deny the claims.

Hariri also met during the day with George Mitchell, Obama's envoy to the Middle East; national security adviser James Jones, and Dennis Ross, a deputy national security adviser on Iran.
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