The US Secretary of State has followed up her surprise trip to Iraq with an unannounced visit to Lebanon.
Hillary Clinton’s talks with President Michel Suleiman come just six weeks before the country votes in a general election. “The parliamentary elections will mark another milestone,” she said. “People 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’s visit coincides with the fourth anniversary of the pullout of Syrian forces following protests in the wake of Rafik al-Hariri’s assassination. Hezbollah, a political and guerrilla group branded a terrorist organisation by Washington, has criticised Clinton’s visit as interference in Lebanese affairs. No side holds a clear lead in opinion polls and June’s election is expected to be a tight race.