US Pledges Support as Lebanon Government Fails
Hezbollah pulls out ahead of expected indictments in assassination
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 12, 2011 4:57 PM CST
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri meets with President Barack Obama Wednesday.   (Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – President Obama and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri today declared their commitment to strengthening Lebanon's independence even as Hezbollah ministers forced the year-old unity government to collapse. Hariri cut today's White House visit short amid his nation's political crisis and immediately left for France to consult with Nicolas Sarkozy before returning to Beirut.

As expected, Lebanon's year-old unity government collapsed after Hezbollah ministers and their allies resigned over tensions stemming from a UN-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, father of the current prime minister. Hezbollah, which is back by Iran and Syria, has denounced the tribunal, which is widely expected to name members of Hezbollah in upcoming indictments. Many fear that implicating Hezbollah could set off sectarian tensions that have plagued the tiny Middle Eastern country for decades.