First Published: 2006-03-21

 
Lebanon seeking ways to break political deadlock
 

Lebanese leaders resume push to break political deadlock on disarmament of Hezbollah, Lahoud’s 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.

 

Bloody attack strikes outside Egypt Foreign Ministry in Cairo

Erdogan confesses: Turkey held ‘diplomatic negotiations’ with Islamic State

Solution according to Huthis: Deal in Saada and battles in Sanaa

Pope denounces Islamic State: Religion cannot be used to justify violence!

Islamisation of education system prompts alarm in secular Turkey

Mediators denounce ‘senseless fighting’ in South Sudan

Tunisia jihadist group offers backing to Islamic State

US Secretary of State sees role for Iran in war against Islamic State

Kurds cross from Turkey to fight Islamic State in Syria

Yemen suspends flights for second day as truce talks collapse

Turkey loses only excuse for appeasement with Islamic State

Marzouki seeks to stay as Tunisia President

Neighbourhood in Iraq’s Dhuluiyah stands against jihadists

British photographer Cantlie twice held hostage by IS

Turkey opens border to desperate Syrian Kurds

Jihadists to change tactics to avoid air strikes

Iran, six powers return to negotiating table

Saudi Arabia to restore Egypt's Al-Azhar mosque

Airlines suspend flights to Sanaa for 24 hours

US accuses Assad of breaking pact on chemical weapons

‘Concerned’ US urges Iran to cooperate in UN nuclear probe

Syrian children given anaesthesia not measles vaccination

France ready to provide ‘aerial support’ in Iraq

Tunisia denies existence of plot to assassinate Beji Caid Essebsi

Majority of Americans believe Obama mishandled terror threats

‘Islamic State’ releases video of captive British journalist

Libya cannot take more than 10 ministers

France approves bill to crack down on jihadists

Assassination of Libya ex-air force chief in Benghazi

14 Bahraini Shiites sentenced to life in prison for bombing

IS jihadists close in on Syria third largest Kurdish town

Yemen rebels clash with Sunni Islamists

New Turkish safety law costs 5,000 coal miners jobs

Bahrain slams Qatar for offering citizenship to Sunni nationals

Libya PM presents new cabinet in Tobruk

US House gives green light to plan to arm Syria rebels

Davutoglu denounces ruling against Turkey’s religion courses

South Sudan to revoke expulsion of foreign workers

Algeria to tighten grip on imam training

Libya Islamists unleash another offensive on Benghazi airport

Iraqi bishop: Operations against IS in Iraq came very late

French parliament approves new anti-terror bill

World Bank calls for sweeping reforms in Tunisia

Obama to meet with generals planning IS assault

UN brokers Israeli-Palestinian deal on Gaza reconstruction