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U.S. wants Lebanon poll monitored

March 24, 2005 at 10:06 AM

BEIRUT, Lebanon, March 24 (UPI) -- U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield Thursday called for free and honest Lebanese elections with international monitors.

After a meeting with Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir in Beirut, Satterfield denounced recent bombings that rocked Lebanon's Christian areas and renewed the call for Syrian forces to withdraw completely from the country.

"We push for a political environment free of threats, free of violence and free of intimidation in order to have free and fair elections as rapidly as possible in an environment free of outside interference," Satterfield said.

"That means the complete withdrawal now of all Syrian forces from Lebanon and elections should move forward in the presence of international observers and in the scheduled time ... That should be a priority."

Satterfield arrived in Beirut Wednesday night and will stay three weeks while U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman is in Washington.

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