US worried pro-Syrians might resort to Lebanon election violence

A senior State Department official told Congress that Syria or its supporters might use violence to interfere in neighboring Lebanon's coming presidential elections. "Interference or intimidation in the electoral process is unacceptable to the United States and to the international community," the diplomat, C. David Welch, said at a hearing of the Senate Middle East subcommittee Thursday. Syria cannot hope to improve relations with the United States or play an influential role in the region unless it heeds that warning, Welch said in a statement and in testimony at the hearing. Careful about what he was willing to disclose openly, Welch said, "My sense is that there is a high risk of something to signal the parliament" of Syria's interest in the outcome of parliament's election a president, a post held by pro-Syrian president Emile Lahoud. His term expires November 24.