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U.S. stands in support of Lebanon's integrity

  |   Jan. 15, 2014 at 11:28 AM
KUWAIT CITY, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Washington will work with the Lebanese military to prevent sectarian violence from threatening national integrity, the U.S. secretary of state said Wednesday.

"We will continue to work very directly with the Lebanese armed forces and [support] their ability to be able to stand up against the sectarian violence that is ripping apart Lebanon yet again," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said.

Kerry was speaking during his meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati on the sidelines of a Syrian donor's conference in Kuwait City.

Lebanon broke free of Syrian dominance with the Cedar Revolution in 2005 but conflict raging across the border has sparked violence pitting pro-Syrian elements against their opponents.

Last year, the U.S. government said it approved $8.7 million in assistance to support the Lebanese military's efforts to monitor, secure and protect its borders against terrorist threats.

Mikati, a Hezbollah ally, is serving in an interim capacity. A new government will be made up of eight ministers from the March 8 political slate, which includes Hezbollah, eight ministers from the Western-backed March 14 coalition and eight from so-called centrist lawmakers.

"We admire the efforts to put together a government, but we are very clear that government needs to not provide an opportunity for legitimization of any terrorist organization or violence within Lebanon," Kerry said.

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