Davutoğlu discusses tension in talks with Lebanese officials

May 23, 2012, Wednesday/ 15:23:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who is currently in Chicago for a NATO summit, held separate phone conservations with Lebanese officials, including Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour, the Anatolia news agency reported on Tuesday.

According to the information obtained, the conversations took place upon phone calls from the Lebanese officials. During the talks, recent developments in Lebanon regarding the Syrian issue were discussed.

Davutoğlu also held talks with former Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora in Ankara last Thursday to discuss the latest situation in Syria and its impact on Lebanon. Siniora expressed strong disapproval for what he believes is the Syrian regime's aim to export its internal conflict to the whole region through Lebanon.

At least nine died in fighting in the past few days in Lebanon's port city of Tripoli, where sectarian tension has been growing over the revolt in neighboring Syria, highlighting how violence in Syria can spill into Lebanon, which was garrisoned by Syrian troops until 2005.

The fighting also underscores how the bloodshed in Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad's regime is cracking down on an uprising against his rule, can fuel violence across the border in Lebanon, which has a fragile political situation precisely because of the Syrian issue.

Moreover, street battles between pro- and anti-Assad groups in the Lebanese capital killed two people and wounded 15 overnight between Sunday and Monday.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern on Monday that violence from the 14-month conflict in Syria could spread to neighboring Lebanon, and reiterated his fear that the Syrian violence may erupt into a full-scale civil war.

Amid fears the situation might deteriorate, four Gulf countries -- Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates -- have warned their citizens against travel to Lebanon.

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