Clinton, to step up talks with Syria
Berri, solution to arms smuggling 'not a problem'
US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton sent a message to Beirut that Washington cannot prevent an Israeli strike in Lebanon as long as arms smuggling to Hezbollah continues.
London-based al-Hayat newspaper reported on Monday that the message was conveyed via US Ambassador to Lebanon Michele Sison to Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.
According to the report, Berri asked Sison to tell Clinton that finding a solution to the arms smuggling issue is "not a problem", but that the US must also stop arming Israel with weapons and equipment.
The parliament speaker said Lebanon is currently in a position of self defense, and that the only solution is to return to regional peace conferences similar to the Madrid Conference of 1991.
Meanwhile, Qatari newspaper al-Watan quoted Arab diplomats as saying Clinton plans to visit Syria in the near future to improve diplomatic ties and dialogue between Washington and Damascus. According to the sources, relations between the two parties are expected to be strengthened in the near future.
The sources said Clinton told a number of European foreign ministers who have recently visited Damascus that she plans to visit Syria as well.
According to the sources, Clinton noted recent developments in US-Syria ties, including the decision to appoint diplomat Robert Ford as the US's ambassador in Damascus, and removing Syria from the list of countries the US advises its citizens not to visit.
However, the sources noted that Washington still includes Syria on the list of countries that support terror.