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Syria meddling in Lebanese polls

BEIRUT, Lebanon, May 13 (UPI) -- Syrian intelligence officers are visiting with Lebanese nationals in an effort to interfere with the June parliamentary elections, leaders said.

Samir Geagea, a leader of the right-wing Lebanese Forces Party, accused Syrian intelligence officials of swaying Lebanese nationals living in Syria in an effort to influence the June vote, the Lebanese news outlet Naharnet reports.

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Two American officials -- Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Jeffrey Feltman and National Security Council Senior Director Daniel Shapiro -- pressed the issue of the Lebanese parliamentary elections in June as a test for the Syrian commitment of non-intervention following years of heavy-handed tactics in Beirut.

Geagea, whose party is a member of the pro-Western March 14 coalition, said the intelligence claims highlights "the extent of interferences in the polls given their importance."

Lebanon holds parliamentary elections June 7. The March 8 coalition, which includes lawmakers with the Lebanese Hezbollah, is expected to take a slim majority over the March 14 slate.

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