First Published: 2006-03-21

 
Lebanon seeking ways to break political deadlock
 

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

 

France, US clash with Iran over changing nuclear accord

Saudi Arabia claims killing of Yemen rebel leader

EU to Russia, Iran: Bring Syria to peace talks

Iraq's Shiites split ahead of crucial vote

Iraq’s ex-football stars from sports to politics

Turkey opposition journalists demand acquittal in terror trial

UN says Syria blocking humanitarian aid to Douma

OPCW experts visit second site of alleged Douma gas attack

Israeli policeman gets 9 months jail for killing Palestinian

US court rules for Arab Bank in precedent-setting case

Lebanese candidates pay hefty price for media coverage

Madani’s resignation sheds light on Iranian power play

Kuwait expels Filipino ambassador over treatment of workers

Syria aid donations for 2018 fall short of amount hoped

Growing anti-war sentiment in the US Congress could spell trouble for Trump

Liverpool’s Salah wins Israeli defence minister’s plaudits

Body of assassinated Palestinian driven through Malaysian capital

'Gap in perceptions' threatens wider Middle East war

UNESCO picks Morocco for project on prevention of violent extremism

Syrian regime retakes region near Damascus from rebels

Mogherini: Iran deal 'needs to be preserved'

Syria rebels prepare as Assad sets sights on next target

Iran's Rouhani questions 'right' to seek new nuclear deal

Trump, Macron call for 'new' nuclear deal with Iran

Syria's Idlib 'big new challenge' for international community

UNRWA chief says Palestinian aid $200 million short since Trump cuts

Bad memories resurface at Raqa’s mass grave

Turkey newspaper chief slams journalist terror trial

Setback for Yemen rebels after strike takes out leader

Saudi issues Islamic sukuk sale to finance deficit

Yarmuk, an epicentre of Syria's bloody conflict

Egypt’s Eurobond succeeds but risks remain

Egypt former anti-corruption chief gets five years jail

Philippines apologises to Kuwait over 'maid rescues'

Iran urges EU not to pay Trump ‘ransom’ over nuclear deal

UAE to finance project to rebuild Mosul's Grand al-Nuri Mosque

EU, UN begin major conference for Syria aid

New tensions rise between old rivals Turkey and Greece

Rouhani warns Trump against betraying nuclear deal

10 killed in Toronto “deliberate” van attack

Nine people killed in Toronto van attack

Yemen Huthi political leader killed in coalition raid

Syria security chief refuses Lebanon court appearance

Air raid kills dozens at Yemen wedding

Algeria draws Europe’s ire by cutting imports, boosting trade with China