The United States says it is "deeply concerned" about a car bombing in Lebanon that killed a pro-Syrian politician.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack voiced unwavering support for Lebanon's government and its democratic institutions.

Druze leader Sheik Saleh Aridi was killed late Wednesday in the village of Baissour near the capital, Beirut.  Police say a bomb was placed under his car and activated by remote control. 

Aridi is the first public figure to be assassinated in Lebanon in about a year.  His death came less than a week before Lebanon's pro-Western and pro-Syrian factions are to meet for talks on settling their differences.

Syria's Foreign Ministry condemned the attack and called it a criminal act.

There has been no claim of responsibility.

Last month, Lebanon and Syria announced a plan to open diplomatic ties for the first time since independence about 60 years ago.

A series of bombings in Lebanon in recent years has mainly targeted prominent anti-Syrian politicians.  Syria has denied involvement in any of the attacks.

Aridi was a senior member of the Lebanese Democratic Party.

The Druze sect is an offshoot of Islam and makes up less than 10 percent of Lebanon's population.

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