Berri: Connelly's Visit to Fattoush is 'Scandal' and 'Proves Battle is with U.S.'

U.S. Ambassador Maura Connelly's visit to MP Nicolas Fattoush in Zahle stirred criticism and accusations by March 8 forces of U.S. meddling in Lebanon's internal affairs on the eve of parliamentary consultations to name a new premier.

"They say there is no U.S. interference in the affairs of Lebanon and the region. On the contrary, they are interfering in everything from southern Sudan all the way to Zahle," Speaker Nabih Berri told An Nahar daily in remarks published Monday.

Berri described Connelly's visit to Fattoush on Sunday as a "scandal" and said the ambassador is proving that "she is interfering in the parliamentary consultations."

The speaker stressed, however, that the lawmaker will turn to his "political and national conscience" and "will not give up his national convictions."

"This visit proved that the battle is with America," Berri told An Nahar.

Following talks with Fattoush, Connelly said in a statement that the U.S. continues to urge all parties in Lebanon to remain calm and participate in constructive dialogue to solve Lebanon's crisis.

The meeting was a chance to follow up their December 2010 talks during the ambassador's last trip to Zahle, the statement added.

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