Suleiman touts democracy to U.S. officials

April 10, 2009 at 3:35 PM
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BEIRUT, Lebanon, April 10 (UPI) -- Lebanese President Michel Suleiman told visiting U.S. officials the June parliamentary elections would highlight diversity as well as democratic reforms.

U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-Mo., led a delegation of lawmakers to Lebanon to meet with top officials in Beirut.

Suleiman called for continued U.S. support as a diplomatic and political partner in the region, noting Lebanon "represents cultural and religious diversity, and should be protected in the interests of world peace and humanity," Lebanon's The Daily Star reports.

The United States is a top military supplier to Lebanon, recently pledging military tanks and delivering portable unmanned aerial reconnaissance vehicles.

A statement from the U.S. Embassy in Beirut said the congressional visit was a show of support to the government of Lebanon and its national sovereignty.

The visit follows the nomination of former Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs.

Feltman told lawmakers on Capitol Hill recently that U.S. relations with Lebanon hinged on the outcome of the June parliamentary elections, as several analysts predict the March 8 coalition of the Lebanese Hezbollah will run a tight race against the pro-Western March 14 slate.

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