11 May 2009
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Hale said to Lebanese officials on Saturday that George Mitchell, US special envoy to the Middle East, will visit Syria and Lebanon as a part of his tour to the region. An-Nahar newspaper reported that in his two days visit to Beirut, Hale told President Michel Suleiman that US President planned on sending Mitchell "to Lebanon to discuss the issue of a comprehensive Middle East peace process".
Hale came to Beirut on Friday to follow up preparations for the coming parliamentary elections in the country. During his visit Hale reiterated the US' commitment for Lebanon's sovereignty and independence is continuing.
"The aim of my visit is to reaffirm the message delivered by U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to Lebanese President Michel Suleiman from his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama," he said following a meeting with Suleiman at Baabda palace.
"The US remains committed to supporting the Lebanese efforts to strengthen their constitutional, civil, defense and security institutions," he added.
Hale's visit came a day after U.S. Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman held talks with Syrian officials in Damascus. Because of the Feltman's visit Lebanese ruling coalition was concerned for a possible deal between the US and Syria.
Although there is a special importance given by Obama administration to have a new beginning with Damascus, it is asserted that economic sanctions which were first imposed by Bush administration in 2004 are being extended for one year more because of continuing US concerns about Syria.