Hezbollah reacts to Biden’s Lebanon visit

The visit to Beirut by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Friday sparked reactions among March 14 and opposition figures who argued over whether his trip was tied to next month's parliamentary elections.

"The high American interest in Lebanon raises strong suspicion as to the real reason behind it," Hezbollah said in a statement, according to the Daily Star newspaper.

In an interview with AFP on Friday, Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah said: "It appears that this visit is part of a U.S. bid to supervise the electoral campaign of a Lebanese party which feels threatened politically in light of the expected outcome of the legislative vote," referring to the March 14 coalition.

"We call on all Lebanese, regardless of their political views, to rise up against such meddling which represents a flagrant violation of Lebanese sovereignty," Fadlallah noted.

The MP added that Biden's visit is part of U.S. efforts to impose its views on the government that will emerge after the elections.

Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem called on President Michel Sleiman to let Biden "listen to what the Lebanese want and not to say what the U.S. wants."

Meanwhile, Boutros Harb, an MP from the 14 March alliance, called Biden's visit "extremely important".

"It (the visit) can be used to enhance Lebanon's independence and prevent any country from attempting to enforce political control over Lebanon," Harb explained.

The remarks by Harb followed a meeting with Prime Minister Fouad Siniora on Friday.

He said that he hoped that Biden's visit would not be used in Lebanese political and electoral bickering, adding that he did not believe that U.S. officials came to Lebanon to interfere in the elections.





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