U.S. gives Lebanon security assurances

July 1, 2013 at 12:29 PM
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BEIRUT, Lebanon, July 1 (UPI) -- The Lebanese government said Monday it received assurances on national security from visiting U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns.

Burns traveled Monday to Beirut from Iraq, where he met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The State Department said Burns discussed the security situation along the western Iraqi border with Syria during his weekend meetings in Baghdad.

Burns accompanied U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly to meet Monday with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman in Beirut. Lebanon's official National News Agency said Burns carried with him a message of support from President Obama.

Burns was quoted as saying the Obama administration would "raise the pace of aid [to Lebanon,] especially since the military institution played a key role in maintaining security and stability in the country."

The U.S. Defense Department said last week it would work with its Lebanese counterparts to help address national security issues emanating from Syria's civil war. Secretary of State John Kerry told Suleiman last week by phone the U.S. government would "take all necessary steps" to assist in the protection of Lebanon's sovereignty and national security.

More than a dozen members of the Lebanese military were killed during fighting in the coastal city of Sidon last month. The melee was connected to the Syrian civil war.

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