U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman hoped on Wednesday that the conflict in Syria would not reach Lebanon and criticized the region’s countries for “not doing enough” to support the Syrian opposition.
Following talks with Premier Najib Miqati at the Grand Serail at the end of his visit, Lieberman also praised the Lebanese government for its assistance to Syrian refugees who have fled the violence in their country.
He also said that he understands the Lebanese government’s decision to distance itself from the developments in neighboring Syria.
He added that nearly a year since the formation of the government, Miqati has demonstrated that he is an independent figure in the Lebanese political divide.
The Lebanese government is motivated by the need to provide refugees with humanitarian assistance and remain vigilant to any individual that may cause a problem in Lebanon, noted the U.S. senator.
The independent senator mostly caucuses with Democrats but he is hawkish on national security and has advocated further U.S. intervention in Syria, including the arming of Syrian opposition groups against Assad’s regime.
Earlier in the day, Lieberman visited at the head of a U.S. delegation the Lebanese-Syrian border at the Bqayaa crossing of Wadi Khaled in northern Lebanon.
During the two-hour tour, he met with several displaced Syrian families at the residence of the former municipal chief of al-Moqaibleh in the area of Bqayaa.
Liberman denied that talks addressed arms smuggling to Syria, but he did relay to Miqati Syrian refugee assertions that members of the Free Syrian Army were not hiding among them.
He also voiced their gratitude to the Lebanese government and various organizations for their aid.
A U.S. Embassy statement said the U.S. senator also held a meeting with President Michel Suleiman. He met with Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat along with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman on Tuesday.
“In his meetings, the senator discussed bilateral relations and the situation in Syria,” the statement said.
Lieberman arrived in Beirut on Tuesday from Saudi Arabia where he held talks with King Abdullah and other senior officials as part of a Middle East tour to discuss the Syria crisis.
Throughout his talks, he urged the need to provide the Syrian people and refugees with further assistance.
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