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US: any step taken with Syria will not be at Lebanon’s expense

US: any step taken with Syria will not be at Lebanon’s expense

Commenting on the recent appointment of a US ambassador to Syria US ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly said on Friday : “President Barack Obama had announced in June of 2009, his intention to restore the U.S. ambassador to Syria. Following the nomination of Robert Ford on February 16, 2010, Obama waited 10 months for the US Senate to take the necessary measures in confirming his nomination . The president’s appointment of Ambassador Ford this week took place along with the appointment of three other ambassadors in Turkey, Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic.

“The timing of the appointment of Ambassador Ford reflects the need to protect and promote U.S. interests and the security in the region. His appointment should not be understood as a reward to the Syrian government .The appointment however is aimed at improving US ability to communicate with the Syrian government and to highlight our priorities and our concerns. ”

She stressed that any step taken with Syria will not be at the expense of Lebanon .

Connelly revealed that “Robert Ford is one of most capable and skilled U.S. diplomat and his professional record shows it”

Commenting on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) Connelly insisted on Friday that any trial of suspects in the murder of former premier Rafik Hariri should not be affected by rivalries between his regional supporters and opponents.

“The special tribunal for Lebanon is an independent judicial entity, established in response to a terrible time in Lebanon’s history by an agreement between the Lebanese government and the United Nations,” Connelly said.

“Its work is legitimate and necessary, and cannot be stopped by any bilateral or regional agreement,” her statement added.

“The… indictments, when they are released, will mark a new stage in a transparent, independent judicial process — a process that has the backing of the United Nations.”

Saudi and Syrian officials have reportedly been working on a compromise that would resolve tensions in Lebanon over the imminent STL indictment . Reports say that the STL may soon indict Hezbollah members in its investigation of the murder of former PM Rafik Hariri.

Lebanon PM Saad Hariri’s trip to new York and his meeting with the Saudi Monarch and his subsequent trip to Riyadh have fueled a lot of speculation about the Saudi-Syrian initiative .

The pro-Syrian Al-Akhbar newspaper said Wednesday that a Saudi-Syrian (S-S) compromise based on Lebanon’s withdrawal from the international tribunal is likely to be announced by January 15.

On the other hand Al-Akhbar reported that only three insiders were really up-to-date with the deal: King Abdullah, Assad and Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. Al-Akhbar is reportedly very close to Nasrallah and its “columns are widely viewed as telegraphs from the Hezbollah leadership”

Even the Israeli newspapers are speculating about the outcome of the S-S initiative. “Saudi Arabia is putting more pressure on Prime Minister Saad Hariri to reject the Special Tribunal for Lebanon investigating the 2005 assassination of his father ex-PM,” the Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Tuesday .

March 14 leaders on the other hand have been denying all these reports and are saying “all what is being reported is strictly speculation”.

Future Movement official Mustafa Allouch said on Wednesday that his party ( which is headed by PM Saad Hariri) will not accept any solution that would call for canceling the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) indictment.

He told OTV that the Future Movement’s position is to hold on to the STL and its indictment, which, he added, he hopes is issued as soon as possible “so things can move forward .”

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