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Beirut bomb threat defused as US envoy arrives

Mitchell assures Lebanon of its "key role" in peace process

United States envoy George Mitchell said Friday his country would not sacrifice Lebanon as it seeks to reach comprehensive peace in the region in his latest visit to the countr, which came y as security officials defused a small bomb sent to Beirut's General Security headquarters.

"Lebanon will play a key role in the long term effort to build lasting, comprehensive peace and stability in the Middle East," Mitchell said after meeting separately with President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister Fuad Siniora.

Meanwhile a bomb containing 200 grams (seven ounces) of explosives was defused after failing to explode because of a technical glitch, security sources said.

Bombs are rarely sent to government buildings although several explosive devices are defused or explode every week in Lebanon.

Mideast tour

Mitchell was holding separate meetings with President Michel Suleiman, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and Saad Hariri, leader of the March 14 coalition that retained its majority in a closely-fought parliamentary election on Sunday.

"Clearly, there can be no lasting solution reached at Lebanon's expense and we look forward to continuing to work with Lebanon to build this solution."

Mitchell said his latest tour of the region, which includes stops in Israel, the West Bank, Egypt and Jordan, as well as previous visits were clear proof that U.S. President Barack Obama's administration was committed to "actively and aggressively" seek peace in the region.

On a visit to Beirut ahead of the vote, Vice President Joe Biden had hinted that Washington may cut off military aid if a coalition led by Hezbollah won.

Mitchell arrived in Lebanon after visits to Jordan and Egypt where he discussed with leaders there ways to achieve peace between the Israelis and Palestinians based on a two-state solution.

Clearly, there can be no lasting solution reached at Lebanon's expense and we look forward to continuing to work with Lebanon to build this solution

George Mitchell , U.S. envoy

Arab-Israeli conflict

"The U.S. President's stances are creating a positive environment that needs to be built on by all the parties to reach a comprehensive and permanent solution to the conflict," a palace statement quoted Jordan’s King Abdullah telling Mitchell.

"The U.S. role is crucial in the efforts to reach peace and attain stability in the region," he told Mitchell, adding that Obama's address on June 4 to the Muslim world from Cairo "embodied important messages," including the endorsement of a two-state solution.

"The setting up of an independent Palestinian state based on a two-state solution is the only path to attaining peace and stability in the region," the monarch was quoted as saying.

Netanyahu has not publicly endorsed Palestinian statehood and has said construction will continue in existing settlements in the occupied West Bank.

King Abdullah also told Mitchell Israel must end settlement building and stop confiscating Arab property in East Jerusalem, seen as the future capital of a Palestinian state, and end efforts to annex lands occupied in the 1967 war.

Mitchell said he discussed with the monarch how "to bring a swift renewal of peace talks," based on a 2003 peace road map that commits Israel to halting settlements expansion and Palestinians to reining in militants.

The U.S. President's stances are creating a positive environment that needs to be built on by all the parties to reach a comprehensive and permanent solution to the conflict

King Abdullah of Jordan