US legislators in Beirut for talks on regional developments
US Republican Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain arrived in Beirut Friday evening for talks with top Lebanese officials, dpa reported.
McCain was accompanied by a delegation from the US Congress consisting of senators John Barrasso and John Thune.
McCain headed directly to the presidential palace upon his arrival for talks with President Michel Suleiman.
McCain's visit is expected to focus on current developments in the region, especially the stalled peace negotiations around the Arab- Israeli conflict.
Earlier, the Lebanese Central News Agency reported that McCain will meet Lebanon's political leaders "in order to hear their stances regarding the means of reaching a just and comprehensive peace in the region."
McCain is also expected to discuss Lebanon's call for the international community "to pressure Israel" to withdraw from occupied territories.
McCain's visit to Beirut comes ahead of one by US special envoy to the region George Mitchell for talks with the leaders of Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Palestinian authority on the peace process.
Also Friday, US Democrat Congressman Alcee Hastings arrived in Beirut and met with top Lebanese officials. He discussed the issue of Iraqi refugees and their influx into Lebanon.
Hastings, co-chairman of the congressional Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, met Sulieman and Foreign Minister Ali Shami as part of a regional tour.
"The biggest issue for me as a leader is dealing with the subject of Iraq refugees," he told reporters.
There are some 21,000 Iraqi refugees living in Lebanon, according to a Danish Refugee Council survey commissioned by the UN refugee agency UNHCR.
Millions of Iraqis have fled their country since 2003, when a US- led invasion toppled the regime of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Most of the refugees have sought refuge in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.
Hastings is due to visit Egypt over the weekend. He has already visited Turkey and Syria.