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Clinton: U.S. won't 'sell out' Lebanon

April 26, 2009 at 2:05 PM   |   Comments

BEIRUT, Lebanon, April 26 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States will never "sell out" the Lebanese people by making any deals with neighboring Syria.

Speaking to reporters Sunday in Beirut after holding meetings with Lebanese President Michel Sleiman, Clinton said Lebanon is an "independent, free, sovereign nation" and the United States won't endanger that in any Middle Eastern negotiations involving Damascus.

"I want to assure any Lebanese citizens, that the United States will never make any deal with Syria that sells out Lebanon and the Lebanese people," Clinton said. "You have been through too much, and it is only right that you are given a chance to make your own decisions, however they turn out, amongst the people who call Lebanon home, who love this country, who are committed to it, who have stayed here and done what you can to navigate through these difficult years."

Before the meeting, Clinton urged the nation to refrain from violence during its June elections.

"The people of Lebanon must be able to choose their own representatives in open and fair elections, without the specter of violence or intimidation, and free of outside interference," CNN quoted Clinton as saying in her first visit to Lebanon since taking office.

The June legislative elections could bring the militant group, Hezbollah, to power. Syria is allied with Hezbollah, while the United States supports Sleiman's unity government.

© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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