Clinton Concerned Syria Unrest Affecting Lebanon

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday expressed concern that interminable unrest in Syria is "contributing to instability" in neighboring Lebanon.

Armed clashes between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime have taken place in recent weeks in both the northern city of Tripoli and the capital Beirut.

"The United States is concerned that developments in Syria are contributing to instability in Lebanon," Clinton said in a statement.

"We encourage all parties to exercise restraint and demonstrate respect for Lebanon's security and stability," the chief U.S. diplomat added.

Clinton also renewed calls on the Assad regime to implement a six-point peace plan brokered by Kofi Annan, the United Nations and Arab League envoy.

"We call on the Syrian regime to stop the violence against its own people and fully implement the Annan Plan," she said.

"The regime needs to institute a peaceful, democratic transition now. We remain committed to a unified, stable, sovereign, and independent Lebanon," Clinton added.

In addition to the clashes in Tripoli and Beirut, 11 Lebanese Shiite pilgrims were abducted in northern Syria as they made their way home from a pilgrimage in Iran, which is Assad's key ally.

The rebel Free Syrian Army has been accused of kidnapping them, claims it has denied.

Health Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said the pilgrims were freed on Friday and arrived in Turkey.

Source: Agence France Presse

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