US puts best face on Lebanon deal that boosts Hizbullah

The Bush administration tried Wednesday to put the most positive spin on a deal among feuding factions in Lebanon that gives Hizbullah more power. The top US diplomat for the Middle East, David Welch, welcomed the agreement that ends Lebanon's 18-month political stalemate, but also gives the Iran- and Syria-backed Hizbullah veto power over any government decision. "It's a necessary and positive step," Welch said at a State Department briefing. "It's not for us to decide how Lebanon does this." Welch, an assistant secretary of state, noted the United States supports the majority in the Lebanese government even though there were Hizbullah members in the previous government and the US had no dealings with them. He said the same principle would apply now, although under the deal the guerilla group would get 11 seats in the Cabinet out of 30.