Portuguese FM urges Lebanese politicians to resolve differences

Portugal's Foreign Minister, whose country holds the European Union's presidency, urged Lebanese politicians Thursday to resolve the country's deepening political crisis. Luis Amado was on a one-day visit to Lebanon, where he met with senior officials, including Prime Minister Fuad Saniora and Foreign Minister Fawzi Saloukh, and offered European assistance to help stabilize the country. "This is a very important country in the region, a very important country for the development of relations with the European Union, and we want to contribute to stabilize the situation in this country as we have been doing during the last year," Amado said after his meeting with Saloukh. The foreign minister was referring to last year's deployment of UN peacekeepers, including Europeans, in southern Lebanon after a 34-day war between Israel and the militant Hizbullah group. Amado's visit comes as Lebanon is suffering its worst internal crisis since the end of the 1975-90 civil war, with the Western-backed government of Saniora locked in a bitter power struggle with the Hizbullah-led opposition.