BEIRUT, Lebanon – U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Welch, on an unexpected visit Wednesday, held talks with the Lebanese Prime Minister, who said afterward he expected no U.N. action on a cease-fire plan in the next two days.
Welch also sat down with Parliament Speaker Wednesday, government officials said.
The U.S. official's journey to the Lebanese capital coincided with intensive international efforts to end four weeks of fighting between Israel and Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group.
Saniora told reporters that no progress had been made to end the fighting, adding that there were contacts on several fronts to end the violence but "there is nothing new so far."
Asked if he expected the U.N. Security Council to issue a resolution on Wednesday, he said he foresaw nothing "today or tomorrow."
"There are major points that are pending, and the meetings that the Arab delegation is conducting in New York achieved its goals so far," Saniora said. The Arab League team is pushing to amend a U.S.-French draft resolution to end the Israel-Hezbollah conflict that began on July 12.
The Lebanese and their Arab backers are demanding that Israel withdraw its forces from southern Lebanon immediately after a cease-fire agreement is reached.
After meeting Saniora, Welch met with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, the official National News Agency reported.
Welch refused to speak to reporters after meeting Saniora and Berri and later met with Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh, NNA said.
Salloukh told reporters after the meeting that Lebanon is "clinging to an immediate cease-fire and an Israeli withdrawal that will be followed by a deployment of the Lebanese army."
Salloukh refused to reveal what message Welch had carried. "I will not tell you. Efforts are still being exerted to reach a solution. Diplomacy is working in order not to reach a dead end."