US Government 'closely monitoring' situation in Lebanon

Pentagon spokesman says US wants Lebanese parties to "use peaceful means to resolve" political crisis sparked after Hizbullah pulls out of gov't.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
January 14, 2011 01:37
1 minute read.
US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.

pj crowley 311. (photo credit: AP)

The United States is closely monitoring the situation in Lebanon after Hizbullah on Wednesday pulled out of the Beirut government causing it to collapse, AFP reported Thursday quoting US officials.

"We do know that political tension, unrest and especially any violence that might follow are threats to regional stability and security," AFP quoted Pentagon spokesman David Lapan as saying.

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2 grenades thrown at office of Hizbullah-allied party

The Pentagon spokesman stressed that "the US government desires that all parties use peaceful means to resolve the situation. We continue to monitor the situation very closely."

The US "has a valuable relationship with Lebanese armed forces and we're committed to do what we can to strengthen the sovereignty of the institutions as well as of the government of Lebanon," Lappan added, as quoted by AFP.

Lapan said that Washington had not yet sent any warships to patrol the waters off Lebanon.

US State Department Philip Crowley said military support for Lebanon is "critical," but also noted that "I don't think that we see a need at this point to review our assistance."

"We expect a new government will emerge through constitutional procedures, and at this point, there's just no reason to speculate," Crowley said.

Lebanon's year-old unity government collapsed Wednesday after Hizbullah ministers and their allies resigned over tensions stemming from a UN-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

The walkout ushers in the country's worst political crisis since 2008 in one of the most volatile corners of the Middle East.

Two hand grenades were thrown on Thursday night at an office belonging to Lebanese politician Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement, which is considered an ally of Hizbullah.

Security forces reportedly opened an investigation into the incident, and it was not clear whether the grenade-throwing was related to the political crisis sparked by Hizbullah's resignation from the government.

Meanwhile, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was set to travel to Turkey late Thursday for talks on the situation.

Associated Press contributed to this report.


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