US diplomat urges Lebanon to elect new president

A senior US diplomat called on Lebanese legislators Saturday to elect a new president saying such a move "will restore dignity and respect" to the post that has been vacant for three weeks amid a serious political crisis. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch made his comments after meeting with Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, the head of the influential Christian Maronite community, and two days before parliament was scheduled to meet in an effort to elect a new president. But Monday's session is not expected to lead to the election of army commander Gen. Michel Suleiman, who has won backing for presidential post from both the anti-Syrian parliament majority and the opposition led by Hizbullah.