Mitchell: Lebanon has key role in building regional peace

US Mideast envoy visits Beirut; Hariri to meet with Sarkozy in Paris; France will reportedly reassure Lebanon that Israel not planning attack.

Mitchell Lebanon (photo credit: AP)
Mitchell Lebanon
(photo credit: AP)
Lebanon is key to regional peace, US Middle East envoy George Mitchell said on a visit to Beirut on Wednesday.
He was in the Lebanese capital on Tuesday and Wednesday at the start of a regional tour aimed at restarting Middle East peace talks.
Mitchell's visit is part of a US effort to forge a wider peace that would end Israel's conflicts with the Palestinians, Syria and Lebanon and normalize Israel's ties with the rest of the Arab world.
In a statement, Mitchell said Lebanon would play a key role in the effort to build a lasting and comprehensive peace and stability in the Middle East.
Later Wednesday, Lebanese Prime Minister Saed Hariri will fly to Paris, where he will meet with French officials, including President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Ahead of the meeting, French sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Paris expected Hariri to bring up "Israeli military threats," and that French officials would try to reassure the Lebanese premier.
The French officials will reportedly tell Hariri that Israel does not mean to threaten Lebanon and there is no danger of an Israeli military operation in Lebanon.
According to the London-based Arab daily, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman relayed a message to Sarkozy saying that Lebanon fears an upcoming Israeli operation and asking that France work to restrain Israel.