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From Baghdad to Beirut… Hillary supersizes foreign policy

In Global News, Lebanon, news, Politics, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, United States on April 26, 2009 at 9:23 am

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, meets with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, right, at the Lebanese Presidential Palace, in Baabda east of Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday April 26, 2009. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met Sunday with Lebanon's president on a stop in Beirut ahead of a critical election that could see a pro-U.S. government ousted by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah and its allies. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, meets with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, right, at the Lebanese Presidential Palace, in Baabda east of Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday April 26, 2009. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met Sunday with Lebanon's president on a stop in Beirut ahead of a critical election that could see a pro-U.S. government ousted by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah and its allies. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, shakes hands with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, right, at the Lebanese Presidential Palace, in Baabda east of Beirut, Lebanon, on Sunday April 26, 2009. Clinton came to Lebanon Sunday with a strong message of support for the country ahead of critical elections.. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, shakes hands with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, right, at the Lebanese Presidential Palace, in Baabda east of Beirut, Lebanon, on Sunday April 26, 2009. Clinton came to Lebanon Sunday with a strong message of support for the country ahead of critical elections.. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, shakes hands with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, right, at the Lebanese Presidential Palace, in Baabda east of Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday April 26, 2009. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met Sunday with Lebanon's president on a stop in Beirut ahead of a critical election that could see a pro-U.S. government ousted by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah and its allies. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, shakes hands with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, right, at the Lebanese Presidential Palace, in Baabda east of Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday April 26, 2009. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met Sunday with Lebanon's president on a stop in Beirut ahead of a critical election that could see a pro-U.S. government ousted by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah and its allies. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Hillary Clinton in Beirut ahead of key vote


BEIRUT — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew to Beirut on Sunday to meet with Lebanese officials ahead of a critical election that could see a pro-American government ousted by the militant Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah and its allies. Clinton arrived unannounced in Lebanon a day after a similarly secret trip to Iraq to show support for the country’s fragile democracy before the June 7 vote. Hezbollah is gaining strength and some fear turmoil if it wins enough votes to play a dominant role in a coalition.

A strong showing by Hezbollah might also see its sponsors Iran and Syria gaining influence in the region and harming Arab-Israeli peace efforts. The U.S. and Israel regard Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, although it plays a role in Lebanon’s current government.

“The people of Lebanon must be able to choose their own representatives in open and fair elections without the spectre of violence or intimidation and free of outside interference,” Clinton said in a brief statement given to reporters aboard her plane. “We join the international community in supporting the Lebanese government’s efforts to achieve that goal.”

“Beyond the elections we will continue to support the voices of moderation in Lebanon and the responsible institutions of the Lebanese state they are working hard to build. Our ongoing support for the Lebanese armed forces remains a pillar of our bilateral co-operation,” she said.

Prior to Clinton’s visit, the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon had already expressed concern about the election, and Hezbollah’s opponents warn the consequence may be the West isolating the country and Washington reducing millions in aid.

The Obama administration is urging free and fair elections but is treading carefully. The Bush administration encouraged the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006 and then saw the radical Hamas movement win handily and badly damage efforts to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

Reflecting that concern, Clinton was expected to stay only briefly in Beirut and meet with just one senior official, President Michel Suleiman. She was not expected to see other politicians who will be candidates in the election, like the pro-Western Prime Minister Fuad Saniora.

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  1. Hillary is both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian. That said, she is limited by what the administration formally wants her to do and say.

    In only 100 days, there has already been a shift in policy and that has angered some of the more extremist pro-Israel hawks in this country and in Israel.

    While it’s true that the last 8 years of Bush [lack of diplomacy] didn’t work, there is no reason to think that Obama and Sec’y Clinton aren’t more willing to move forward with a more balanced approach- selecting George Mitchell as special envoy signaled that right off the bat. I continue to have faith in Sec’y Clinton’s ability to move the peace process forward.

  2. […] From Baghdad to Beirut… Hillary supersizes foreign policy … […]

  3. Gee, thanks- I didn’t know we were in a War during the 90’s.

    As far as I know, Hillary’s ME policy is something the Bush Administration has never done. Using diplomacy and a planning for a troop withdrawl.

    You seem a bit confused mlleoman, and seriously lacking in your knowledge of history.

    My friend, there has never been Peace in the Middle East for over a thousand years. And Obama should thank his Lucky Stars he has someone of the caliber of Hillary Clinton in his corner.

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