First Published: 2006-03-21

 
Lebanon seeking ways to break political deadlock
 

Lebanese leaders resume push to break political deadlock on disarmament of Hezbollah, Lahoudís fate.

 

Middle East Online

By Salim Yassine - BEIRUT

Smiles but still no agreements

Lebanese political leaders are Wednesday to resume their drive to break a deadlock on the disarmament of the Hezbollah militia and the fate of the country's pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud.

The chairman of the conference, parliament speaker Nabih Berri, has said the forum would carry on for as long as it takes to thrash out these issues, "even if this means weeks, or months".

After an eight-day break in the meetings between leaders from across the political and religious spectrum, the question of the presidency, however, will be discussed behind the scenes rather than in open sessions, he said.

Lahoud, who has been under mounting pressure by the anti-Damascus parliamentary majority to resign, repeated on Saturday that he would hold his ground.

"If I quit now, it might be thought that I was a traitor, or that I had violated the constitution," he said.

Also over the weekend, Fatah's chief in Lebanon said his Palestinian faction would round up weapons from refugee camps amid growing calls for militias in the country to be disbanded in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1559.

"We have decided to collect all the weapons we possess, including individual arms, and put them in secure places (inside the camps), in accordance with the wishes of the inter-Lebanese dialogue conference," said Sultan Abul Aynain.

On March 12, the forum struck an accord on normalising ties with former powerbroker Syria that were thrown into turmoil by the February 2005 assassination of Lebanon's ex-prime minister Rafiq Hariri.

"Participants want relations between Lebanon and Syria to be as equals, based on the establishment of diplomatic relations and embassies and demarcating Lebanese-Syrian frontiers," said Berri.

Prime Minister Fuad Siniora has been tasked with holding talks with Syria, centred on the Shebaa Farms sector where the Lebanese, Syrian and Israeli borders meet.

Lebanon wants an official demarcation of its border with Syria.

But it has decided to await the results of an Arab summit being held next week in Khartoum that could advance the healing process between Beirut and Damascus, which a UN probe has implicated in the Hariri murder.

The economic crisis in Lebanon, whose public debt amounts to a whopping 38 billion dollars, is not officially on the conference agenda but it has been making inroads.

The main parties in the parliamentary majority, headed by Saad Hariri, the slain premier's son, and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, want the forum to tackle the issue of economic reforms.

Siniora on Monday briefed European Union foreign ministers in Brussels on his programme of privatisations aimed at spurring investments and growth.

EU External Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, after the talks, hailed the dialogue between Lebanese leaders and the proposed reforms as the best way forward.

The dialogue was "a very good base" for progress on the political and economic fronts, she said.

 

Yemen warring parties back to peace talks table

UN warns Eastern Aleppo may soon become besieged

Is Erdogan-Davutoglu tandem coming to an end?

US troops facing growing risks in Iraq, Syria

Cafes, restaurants spring up in Tripoli

Malta likely to become first EU member to open Libya mission

Qaeda threatens to target homes of Yemen security forces

Anti-ISIS coalition pledges additional military commitment

London set to elect its first Muslim Mayor

Fierce fighting rages in Aleppo as diplomacy efforts intensify

Riyadh's $22.5 bn Metro project on track

Egypt court sentences prominent activist to six months in prison

UK to take in more Syria child refugees

France to host Saudi, Qatar, UAE, Turkey FMs for Syria talks

US expects more military resources for anti-ISIS fight

Standoff escalates between Egypt journalists and authorities

Turkey says ready to send ground troops to Syria 'if necessary'

Hamas accuses Fatah of organising military cell in Gaza

Egypt court acquits Mubarak's last PM

Israel to upgrade ties with NATO as Turkey lifts veto

Passengers injured as Etihad flight hits severe turbulence

Israeli tanks fire shots over Gaza border

5th edition of Middle East Homeland Security Summit to be held in Amman in November

Money and revenge push Syrians to jihadist ranks

EU conditionally backs visa-free travel for Turks, overhauls asylum system

Airstrikes resume in Damascus as fighting 'freeze' ends

Relief in Yemen's Mukalla after year of al-Qaeda rule

Saudi oil minister visits Sudan to cement improving ties

Warnings for Assad as Syria talks shift to Berlin

Fierce clashes rage in Syriaís Aleppo

OPCW warns ISIS may be making chemical weapons

French court says 'Carlos the Jackal' must face trial for 1974 attack

UN demands protection of hospitals in armed conflicts

Jewish settler who led burning alive of Palestinian teen receives life sentence

Italy ready to raise shipwreck off Libya coast

Heavy airstrikes kill dozens in ISIS Syria bastion

Deadly intra-rebel clashes rock eastern part of Syria capital

German 'jihadist' goes on trial for Syria war crimes

Number of people held in solitary confinement doubles in Israel

UN fears operation near Mosul will displace 30,000 more Iraqis

Turkey Nobel Laureate shows solidarity with veteran writer, Murat Belge

Russian FM hopes for Aleppo ceasefire in 'next few hours'

Israel Labour mulls break with British party over anti-Semitism claims

Saudi to ensure Binladin Group resolves wage issues

Tens of thousands of Shiite pilgrims flock to Baghdad shrine