Washington upbeat despite Hariri move

Sept. 11, 2009 at 10:21 PM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 (UPI) -- Washington remains hopeful that political leaders in Lebanon would resolve their impasse quickly to form a new government committed to peace, officials said.

Saad Hariri brought his March 14 coalition to power in the June parliamentary elections in Lebanon, managing a victory over the March 8 opposition slate that includes Hezbollah.

Following months of bickering and political defections, Hariri on Thursday announced he was stepping down as prime minister-designate in hopes of ending the political row.

"I announce to all Lebanese that I told President Suleiman today that I will step down from forming a government, in the hope that this decision will be for the benefit of Lebanon," said Hariri.

Analysts prior to the June contest predicted a tough fight to form a new government given the complex political environment in Beirut.

Washington remained upbeat on the prospects, however, recognizing time was needed to allow the political process to play out.

"We hope that both sides will resolve the impasse quickly and respect the process that's outlined in the Lebanese Constitution, put together a government that will serve the interests of its people," said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.

On suggestions that the political fray may exacerbate tensions between the March 14 and March 8 slates, Crowley stated Washington did not consider that a main concern.

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