The FINANCIAL -- EU foreign policy
chief Catherine Ashton warned on Tuesday against a political vacuum in
Lebanon after the opposition called for the premier to step down over a
deadly blast blamed on Syria, state media said.
She also claimed, without pointing a finger, that "there are some who are trying to divert attention from the situation in the region by causing problems in Lebanon," the National News Agency reported.
On Friday, a car bomb in Beirut killed police intelligence chief General Wissam al-Hassan, who led a series of investigations linking the regime of President Bashar al-Assad to political assassinations in Lebanon.
"This attack is a terrible thing; we are concerned about the stability of Lebanon," Ashton was quoted as saying after meeting Prime Minister Najib Mikati.
Hassan's murder has sparked fears of new inter-confessional strife in Lebanon, where much of the Sunni Muslim community opposes the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and most Shiites support him. Christians are divided on the subject.
A number of people have been killed and wounded in fighting in the northern city of Tripoli, a bastion of anti-Assad sentiment where there is a minority of Alawites, who belong to the same offshoot of Shiite Islam that Assad does.
There has also been scattered violence in Beirut, with one death.
On Sunday, following Hassan's funeral, angry youths were repelled by police when they tried to storm the Serail, Mikati's official offices.
As EUbusiness reported, there were also clashes on Monday as troops sought to reopen streets blocked by supporters of fierce anti-Damascus opposition leader Saad Hariri.
Hariri and other opposition figures have blamed Damascus for the assassination and demanded the resignation of Mikati, whose cabinet is dominated by Syrian ally Hezbollah.
Mikati, who expressed his desire to step down, said on Saturday he would stay at the request of President Michel Sleiman in the "national interest."
In a separate meeting with Sleiman, Ashton expressed her concerns of a possible political vacuum and the EU's commitment to the "sovereignty, independence and stability of Lebanon," the National News Agency said.
Ashton's visit to Lebanon, planned before the attack, is the second leg of a five-day regional tour ending in Jerusalem.
She was to hold a press conference at Beirut's international Airport later Tuesday.