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Clinton to Meet Saudi King, Lebanese PM

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (file photo)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to meet late Friday in New York with Saudi King Abdullah and tentatively with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

A senior State Department official told VOA that the Friday night meeting with King Abdullah is "strictly a courtesy call" concerning his recovery from surgery. A later meeting possibly with Mr. Hariri will discuss Lebanon's internal political issues.

An official close to Mr. Hariri told the French news agency that he is traveling to New York for talks on the political controversy in Lebanon over a United Nations probe into the 2005 murder of the prime minister's father, former prime minister Rafiq Hariri.

Media reports say the tribunal may soon indict members of the Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah in the bombing that killed Rafiq Hariri and 22 other people.

Hezbollah denies involvement and promises a backlash if its members are indicted.

Hezbollah, part of the nation's fragile political coalition, is deemed a terrorist group by Western nations.

In an interview published on Friday in the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat, Mr. Hariri said he was travelling to New York to meet with the king for the second time in 10 days to boost Saudi-Syrian efforts to ease political tensions in anticipation of the tribunal's findings.

In the interview, Mr. Hariri said a political agreement was struck before King Abdullah went to the United States in November for back surgery where he is recovering in New York. He added that Hezbollah is not cooperating with mediation efforts.

Hezbollah and its allies reject the accusation saying Mr. Hariri is behind the political paralysis by not rejecting the U.N. probe and the outside meddling in internal Lebanese affairs.