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Solana Begins Mideast Tour Focusing on Lebanon


European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana has started a Middle East tour focused on easing political tensions in Lebanon.

Solana arrived Monday in Beirut, where we will confer with Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and the speaker of parliament, Nabih Berri.

On Tuesday, Solana travels to Saudi Arabia, and he is due in Syria Wednesday for talks with President Bashar al-Assad. He is expected to urge the Syrian leader to take a constructive role with the EU in the region, particularly in Lebanon.

Solana will be the highest level EU official to visit Damascus in two years, following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. A U.N. investigation implicated Syrian and Lebanese security officials in the killing.

Syria supports the Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah, which is trying to oust Prime Minister Siniora's pro-Western government. Syria denies any involvement.

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