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Praise, concerns for Beirut on anniversary

March 15, 2012 at 9:50 AM

WASHINGTON, March 15 (UPI) -- Though fundamental challenges remain, Washington recognizes Lebanon's political will to maintain peace and stability, the U.S. State Department said.

This week marks the seventh anniversary of the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon. Lebanese protesters, largely through peaceful means, managed to stake their claim to the country following years of heavy political and military oversight from Syria.

Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said Washington supports efforts by Lebanon's political leaders to ensure peace and stability in the wake of the revolution.

"We will continue to stand with and support the people of Lebanon and all those across the region as they work for democratic governments that will fulfill their aspirations and respect their rights," she said in a statement.

She noted, however, there were challenges remaining in the country. "Foreign-backed groups," she said, "seek to turn back the clock."

Washington has expressed frustration with the rising political influence of Hezbollah. The Shiite group is tied to the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, thought it holds key positions in the Lebanese government.

Lebanon gets about $100 million in military aid from the United States each year.

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