Miliband hopes '09 brings change to ME

In Beirut, UK foreign secretary says next year will bring global change with new US president.

miliband suleiman 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP)
miliband suleiman 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Wednesday that he is hopeful 2009 will see opportunities for change in the Middle East. "It's a year of change globally," David Miliband said after meeting with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman. He noted that next year there will be a new American president, a new government in Israel and elections in Lebanon and Iran. "So every country needs to think what contribution does it need to make, want to make, to peace and stability in the Middle East," he told reporters. "We all know that there won't be peace and stability in the world without peace and stability in the Middle East and there won't be peace and stability in the Middle East unless there is peace and stability in Lebanon," he said. Later at a news conference at the airport before leaving Lebanon, Miliband said 2009 "needs to be a year of a comprehensive dialogue and comprehensive approach to the problems in this region." But he added it's up to regional leaders to make the move. "Those of us from outside the region have to have a degree of humility. We also have to be ready to be supportive of those who are willing to take risks to achieve the vision of a peaceful and secure Middle East," Miliband said. Miliband has also visited Syria, Israel and the West Bank as part of a Mideast tour. During his visit, Miliband expressed support for Lebanon's independence and democracy. Britain is a strong supporter of Lebanon's government and Miliband's visit is the second since Suleiman was elected in May, defusing a year-and-a-half long political crisis that prevented parliament from picking a head of state. In Syria Tuesday, Miliband said Damascus could play "a constructive role" in the stalled Middle East peacemaking process. He also condemned the rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas, saying they harm Syria's position in the region and diminish chances of achieving a just and comprehensive peace.