Ashton in Beirut as EU warns of power vacuum in Lebanon

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Ashton in Beirut as EU warns of power vacuum in Lebanon

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The EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is meeting Lebanese leaders in Beirut amid heightened tension over the conflict in neighbouring Syria.

She has held talks with Prime Minister Najib Mikati and is due to see President Suleiman.

EU ambassadors have warned about a possible power vacuum in Lebanon following the assassination of intelligence chief General Wissam al-Hassan in a car bomb attack last week.

In the northern city of Tripoli sectarian clashes continued overnight. It is reported that soldiers were deployed as at least two people were killed, making a total of eight dead in the recent troubles.

Calm returned to Beirut on Tuesday morning with the army maintaining a heavy presence after days of tension.

The Syrian conflict has exposed Lebanon’s long-standing political and religious divisions.

Protesters have called for the government, which has a strong pro-Syrian Hezbollah influence, to resign. The assassinated intelligence chief was a critic of the Syrian regime.