Friday, 22 October 2010

“Americans Confused by Feltman’s Visit, Content of Clinton’s Call with Sleiman”

22/10/2010 Arab diplomatic sources in Beirut told As-Safir newspaper that US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman was “nervous and tense”, during his talks in Riyadh with a number of Saudi officials last week.

The sources said Feltman rejected any attempts to prevent the issuance of the indictment by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, stressing to Saudi officials that the “US is committed to the STL and to stability in Lebanon.”

“The contacts between Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the second between them in less than a week, paved the way for the resumption of visits between Riyadh and Tehran at the highest levels,” the sources told As-Safir, not excluding the possibility of a senior Iranian official visit to Saudi Arabia, or sending a Saudi official to Tehran in the coming weeks, after the Iraqi government situation becomes clear.

The senior Arab sources called for waiting for the results of intensive regional consultations, in order to accelerate the formation of the Iraqi coalition government.

But the Americans, according to the sources, seemed “confused” by the shape of Feltman’s visit and the content of the telephone call between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Lebanese President Michel Sleiman, as well as by a list of questions distributed by the US Embassy on a number of “Lebanese friends” in order to explore Hezbollah’s reaction vis-à-vis the indictment expected to accuse it in the Rafiq Hariri assassination.

In an interview with Al-Hayat newspaper published on Friday, Feltman said that “there is no substitute for the STL.”

“We are in contact with Lebanese officials to defuse the current tension in the country,” Feltman said, adding that “attempts to destabilize Lebanon are not the best way to protect its sovereignty.”

"The absence of justice leads to instability. The choice between instability and the court is not a right choice. It is the choice of Hizbullah and others. They are trying to impose it on the Lebanese," Feltman said. “We hope Lebanon continues to fund the STL, but there are other ways to fund the court [if Lebanon’s share was blocked],” he said.

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