Rice Makes 'Surprise' Visit to Lebanon

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CBNNews.com - BEIRUT - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice paid an unannounced visit to Beirut Monday to congratulate newly elected Lebanese President Michel Suleiman.

Speaking with reporters on board the flight, Rice said she would express US support of Lebanese democracy and talk with Suleiman on "how the United States can support the institutions of a free Lebanon."

Upon arrival at the presidential palace, Rice shook hands with the Lebanese president, congratulated him and said, "We are all just very supportive of your presidency and your government."

Rice is the highest-ranking US official to meet with Suleiman since his election last month, which broke an 18-month political stalemate and gave Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists veto power over government decisions.

The US holds Hezbollah responsible for the 1983 bombing of the US Marine barracks, which killed 241 marines, and the 1985 hijacking of a TWA airliner and the murder of an American serviceman onboard.

In the summer of 2006, a Hezbollah terror cell crossed the border into Israel and attacked an IDF patrol, killing eight soldiers and kidnapping IDF reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

The 34-day war that ensued ended with a UN-brokered cease-fire, with a UNIFIL (United Nations) peacekeeping force deployed along the border with Israel.

Sources: The Associated Press, Reuters

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