BEIRUT: External powers, including Washington, are not playing a role in the Lebanese presidential election, U.S. Ambassador David Hale was quoted as saying Friday.
"We have no role in picking or choosing a candidate, nor should any other foreign power. It is only the right and the responsibility of the Lebanese," Hale told reporters after meeting Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.
"Many ask about the role of the international community, including the United States, in this election. It is very simple: our role is to assist the Lebanese to protect this process, so that a Lebanese president is elected by the Lebanese, according to the constitution, and on time," he added.
Hale stressed that both the presidential election and parliamentary elections this fall are "entirely Lebanese processes."
"The Lebanese must choose their leaders. And those leaders will have serious work ahead of them," he said.
"Lebanon is facing a variety of economic, security, and social issues. If they are to be properly addressed, all three arms of the government should be functioning," Hale said. "The international community, and certainly the U.S., need representative Lebanese partners if we are to help this country."
Hale said he discussed a range of issues, including the presidential election, with Berri.
"I want to commend him [Berri] and other Lebanese political leaders for the seriousness with which they are addressing the issue of the election," the U.S. envoy said.
Hale also met Prime Minister Tammam Salam.