Friday, July 22, 2005

Condoleezza Rice makes surprise visit to Beirut, Lebanon

The BBC and several others are reporting that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made an unscheduled visit to pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud in Beirut, Lebanon Friday. I wonder what she told him. "This will be an opportunity first of all to congratulate the Lebanese people on their incredible desire for democracy and the fact that they keep pressing forward and (have) now formed a government," Ms Rice told reporters on her plane to Beirut from Jerusalem. That the new government is a puppet government of Syria was not mentioned.

WaPo says, "Rice will raise with Lebanese officials the idea of scheduling an international conference to ease Lebanon's financial load, including a crushing foreign debt that is one of the highest in the world, said a senior official traveling with Rice."

Aljazeera says zip.

Khaleej Times (UAE) says she was immediately driven under tight security to the house of assassinated former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, where she met his son Saad al-Hariri. Then she was to have visited the grave of Hariri, assassinated in Beirut in February. One of her aides is quoted anonymously as saying that she would also meet with Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and added that the prime minister represented the new Lebanon and Lahoud the old.

Does anyone know the balance of power between the President, Lahoud, and the Prime Minister, Siniora? I don't.

Google lists a couple of reports from alReuters but they have been taken down. That seems curious.

alReuters Canada does have a story up that reports the visit to the gravesite as having happened. Rice, with Hariri's son at her side, laid a reef of white flowers on the grave. Reuters reports that security was tight with vans in the motorcade constantly changing positions to keep her car surrounded. At one point a soldier leaned out of a car window and pointed a rifle at another car which had approached the motorcade from behind. The approaching car quickly backed off.

Pravda doesn't add anything except some "this" and "that". I can't determine whether they are quoting someone or being sarcastic. I read Pravda a lot because their reports frequently give me the giggles but I don't purport to understand them.


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