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Hezbollah Lawmaker Rejects US Warship Deployment Off Lebanon's Coast

By VOA News
29 February 2008

A Hezbollah lawmaker in Lebanon says the U.S. deployment of warships off the Lebanese coast is a threat against the country.

Hassan Fadlallah said Friday that Hezbollah will not succumb to what he called U.S. intimidation.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said his government had not asked for any naval support.

The United States is sending a group of warships, in what a senior White House official says is a show of support for stability in the Mediterranean region.

The top U.S. uniformed military officer, Admiral Michael Mullen, says the American flotilla's presence is not intended to be threatening, nor is it a reaction to events in any single country.

White House national security spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the deployment is intended to reflect U.S. concern about the political situation in Lebanon, and also to bolster regional stability.

U.S. officials declined to say whether the naval show of force is meant specifically for Syria, which Washington considers a destabilizing influence in Lebanon and other areas.

Three U.S. naval vessels are said to be heading toward Lebanon - the destroyer USS Cole and two other warships. The Cole was heavily damaged by a terrorist attack more than seven years ago in Yemen, but has since been rebuilt.

Lebanon's political system has been deadlocked for month due to parliament's inability to elect a new president. Voting was delayed again this week until March 11 - 15 time a presidential ballot has been postponed since November.

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

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