Obama to meet Lebanese PM Hariri today
US President Barack Obama will meet Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri today to discuss, among other matters, a UN probe into the murder of his father and ex-premier Rafiq Hariri.world Updated: Jan 12, 2011 10:26 IST
US President Barack Obama will meet Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Wednesday to discuss, among other matters, a UN probe into the murder of his father and ex-premier Rafiq Hariri.
The talks will take place amid US concern at a political crisis sparked by the United Nations probe and perceived pressure by the militant group Hezbollah on Hariri to disavow its findings.
"Tomorrow, President Obama will meet with Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon to discuss US support for Lebanon's sovereignty, independence, and stability," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement.
The talks would also focus on "the ongoing work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), and other regional issues," he said.
"Lebanon is an important partner in US efforts to promote peace, stability, and justice in the Middle East."
Obama also phoned Saudi King Abdullah in New York where the monarch is recovering from surgery and discussed Lebanon, a White House spokesman said.
"The President told the King that, in light of their shared commitment to Lebanon's welfare and to supporting Prime Minister Hariri, he looks forward to continuing to work together with Saudi Arabia and other partners to support Lebanon," he added in a statement.
On Monday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed concern over attempts to "destabilize" Lebanon because of the probe into the 2005 murder of Rafiq Hariri.
"I'm deeply worried about the efforts to destabilize Lebanon," Clinton said in Abu Dhabi when asked by a television interviewer about the political crisis in Lebanon and concerns of war.
"We should do everything we can to make sure those warnings are not accurate," Clinton said, when asked to comment on warnings of a regional conflict.
"It's very important we look at how disastrous a war would be for everyone and it still is a fact there is no solution to the problems that beset the area through war," Clinton said.
For months, Lebanon has been at a political impasse over reports the UN-backed tribunal is set to indict members of Hezbollah in connection with Hariri's assassination.
Hezbollah, which is backed by Syria and Iran, has warned it would not accept such an outcome and accuses The Hague-based tribunal of being part of a US-Israeli plot.
Clinton met separately on Friday in New York with Saad Hariri and the Saudi king to discuss the growing tensions in Lebanon.
Hariri has also held talks in recent days in New York with King Abdullah, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon over the crisis.