Blair's visit to Beirut sparks backlash

A young woman protester managed to disrupt a press conference by Tony Blair at the end of a Lebanon trip which was boycotted by political leaders of the powerful Shia community.

Mr Blair's arrival in Beirut provoked a huge demonstration. His motorcade swept past hundreds of heavily armed police a nd troops, who were out in the streets to keep the protesters under control. A large part of central Beirut was sealed off with barbed wire and cement barriers.

Slipping through the security net to interrupt his joint press conference with the Lebanese Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora, an Irish peace activist, Caoimhe Butterly, unfurled a banner attacking Israel and declared: "This is an insult to the thousands of Lebanese who have died as a result of Blair's policies."

Far from condemning her actions, Mr Siniora emphasised that Lebanon was a democracy that tolerated freedom of expression. Mr Siniora praised Mr Blair's role as a mediator and said the damage inflicted on Lebanon during the conflict might have been even worse but for his intervention.

Mr Blair defended his role in the conflict by insisting that peace could only come to the Middle East through an agreement signed by both Israel and Palestine, and that it was necessary to talk to both sides.

Mr Blair had been due to meet the speaker of parliament, Nabih Berri, who acts as mediator between Hizbollah and the government. But Downing Street staff had to admit that the meeting was off. Mr Berri, who was in Geneva over the weekend, had not thought it worth his while to return to Beirut for the appointment. Lebanon's ministers for labour and energy, who are aligned with Hizbollah, were also publicly refusing to meet Mr Blair. The Shia boycott follows Sunday's warning by the senior cleric Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah that Mr Blair was not welcome.

Mr Blair promised £22.3m in aid towards repairing war damage estimated at £4.8bn, as well as £20m towards the cost of the UN peacekeeping force. HMS York will help to patrol the coast.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Designer / Design Director

£38000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B content marketing agen...

Austen Lloyd: Law Costs HOD - Southampton

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn