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Visiting US official evades queries on Mossad-backed terror network

Meris Lutz/Lebanon Daily Star | July 5 2006

BEIRUT: The US House of Representatives Democratic Assistance Committee arrived in Lebanon Monday with the intention of "exchanging expertise" with Lebanese lawmakers, but the visit merely highlighted the US delegation's unwillingness to waiver from the official agenda to answer specific questions on the Lebanese case.

Committee chairman David Drier pointedly ignored repeated questions from reporters about the recently uncovered Mossad-linked terrorist group while speaking to the press after talks with Speaker Nabih Berri.

"I repeat, this visit focuses on democracy in the parliaments, which we are seeking to build relations with, and this is our mission," he said after being asked a second time about his opinion on the Mossad-sponsored network and the US reaction to it.

The US committee faced more difficult questions during a seminar on congressional committees which was attended by academics and politicians who took the opportunity to pose questions about the US legal process and the country's policies.

"There's a wide range of views in America toward our policy in Iraq and the Middle East, and even within our delegation," said Drier, responding to criticism of the US role in Iraq and its continued support of Israel.

"I agree with some [policies] and not others, but our mission is to focus on building relationships," he said. "We are here to talk about our own experiences, not to impose ideas on anyone."

"We understand that we have very different constitutional systems, but we are both democracies with a strong stake in representative government," added Congressman Dave Price.

Drier concentrated on the "need for an independent Parliament and adequate oversight of decisions by the executive branch," but would not elaborate on the US refusal to recognize the current chief executive, President Emile Lahoud.

"We're not in the midst of determining what should happen in Lebanon," Drier told The Daily Star. "All I'm doing is talking about the United States and what we do, and we're setting it as an example: We work independent of the executive branch and we do everything we can to make sure that others around the world can see that."




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