New French foreign minister to travel to Lebanon
New French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner will travel to Lebanon for a two-day working visit starting Thursday, his office said. Kouchner will hold talks with "the main political leaders of the country," including Prime Minister Fuad Saniora and Parliament speaker Nabih Berry, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday - at a time when government forces are seeking to uproot Islamic militants. Kouchner was expected to express France's "solidarity" with the Lebanese people "in this critical period," pressing for the country's independence, sovereignty and stability, the ministry said. France, a major contributor to the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, has had longtime ties with the country. President Nicolas Sarkozy supports the creation of an international tribunal to bring to justice those behind the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
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