French presidential runner meets troops in Lebanon

French presidential candidate Segolene Royal visited French forces in southern Lebanon on Friday, the second day of a Middle East tour aimed at showing voters back home that she is equipped to represent France in the international arena. Royal met with the head of the UN peacekeepers in Lebanon, Maj. Gen. Alain Pellegrini, at their headquarters in the southern coastal town of Naqoura and visited the French contingent nearby. Royal, 53, traveled by helicopter from Beirut to southern Lebanon, avoiding potential urban paralysis from the planned massive protest by Lebanon's Hizbullah and its pro-Syrian allies aimed at ousting the Western-backed leader. Royal dismissed calls for her to leave Beirut because of the mounting tensions, which threaten to bring Beirut to a halt. She was holding a news conference later Friday. Trips to Israel and the Palestinian Territories also were on her agenda.