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US Envoy:  No Mideast Peace at Lebanon's Expense


U.S. envoy George Mitchell says a Middle East peace agreement will not come at Lebanon's expense.

Mitchell said in Beirut Friday that Lebanon will play a key role in the long-term effort to build lasting stability in the region. The U.S. special envoy to the Middle East made the remarks following talks with Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora.

Mitchell also praised Lebanon's recent parliamentary election, calling the vote an important milestone for the country. A U.S.-backed coalition retained its majority in Sunday's closely fought election.

Mitchell said the United States remains steadfast in it support for a sovereign, free, and independent Lebanon.

The envoy's stop in Lebanon is the latest on a Mideast tour aimed at reviving the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The envoy arrived in Beirut from Jordan, where he met with King Abdullah. Earlier on Thursday, Mitchell called on Arab states to take meaningful steps toward making peace with Israel during talks with Egyptian officials in Cairo.

Mitchell also renewed earlier comments, saying the United States is "working hard" to achieve its goal of "comprehensive peace in the Middle East." He said Washington is committed to reaching a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday the Mideast diplomatic Quartet, composed of the U.N., U.S., the EU and Russia, will meet in Italy later this month to discuss the next steps in peace negotiations . He did not give details.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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