BEIRUT (AFP-EJP)---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.
In Beirut, Ashton met with President Michel Sleiman, Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Najib Miqati and Lebanese army commander General Jean Qahwaji.
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.
Her concerns were highlighted when an opposition MP said he and four colleagues had received texted death threats from a Syrian telephone number before and after Friday's car bombing.
The blast 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 in Beirut with 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.
Since the bombing, at least 12 people have been killed and wounded in fighting in the northern city of Tripoli, including a woman who died on Tuesday.
The city is a bastion of anti-Assad sentiment but also includdes a minority of Alawites, who belong to the same offshoot of Shiite Islam that Assad does.
In remarks at the end of her visit, before traveling to Israel, Ashton said the European Union « stands by Lebanon and its people.
« I have expressed full European Union support for the unity of the country, » she added.
« Such acts of terrorism are designed to provoke reaction and to create tensions.I welcome the efforts undertaken to maintain stability through national dialogue.And I encourage all political leaders to work towards constructive solutions to the main challenges that face Lebanon today. »
« At such times the importance of robust State institutions that continue to ensure security and provide services cannot be understated, » she said.
Anti-Syria opposition chief Saad Hariri and other political 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."
On Monday, the ambassadors of Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States had expressed their "unequivocal condemnation of any attempt to destabilise Lebanon through political assassination".
Hariri, a former premier who heads the parliamentary opposition, said he was determined to oust Mikati's government "by peaceful and democratic means."
However, analysts have said that unless Mikati willingly resigns, the government will stay in place.