US will not tolerate continued Syrian meddling in Lebanon: Rice

Published: Sunday June 24, 2007

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Sunday on the international community to send a "very strong message" to Syria that any continued interference in Lebanon would not be tolerated.

Asked about the failure of the latest Arab League mission to relaunch an inter-Lebanese dialogue, Rice decried what she said were Syrian intimidation attempts in Lebanon.

"There needs to be a very strong message to Syria that that is not going to be tolerated," she told journalists flying with her to Paris, where she is set to participate Monday in a conference on Sudan's Darfur region.

"So anyone who talks to Syria needs to be sending that very strong message," she added.

Rice, who is scheduled to meet Lebanon's pro-Western Prime Minister Fouad Siniora on Tuesday, met last month with her Syrian counterpart Walid Mouallem for the first time since the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, which Washington claims was ordered by Damascus.

Asked whether she was planning a new meeting with Mouallem, Rice simply said "there is no plan currently."