France invites Lebanese dialogue

Foreign minister proposes meeting of Lebanese leaders to break political deadlock.

    Saad Hariri's Future movement signalled 
    approval of the French plan [AP]

    A leading member of Lebanon's majority coalition group welcomed the French plan and said it was willing to attend the meeting.

     

    "The Future movement welcomes the idea of a meeting in Paris. It would be willing to participate once it receives the official invitation," said a senior source at the Future movement, an organisation led by Saad Hariri.

     

    Doubts

     

    One of the groups in the opposition coalition, which consists of Christian and Shia Muslim parties, said it was willing to attend the proposed talks.

     

    "We strongly welcome this invitation," said Simon Abu Ramia, a spokesperson for Michel Aoun, who leads the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), a Christian organisation which advocates secularism for Lebanon.

     

    However, another senior member of the opposition expressed doubts over the usefulness of the talks.

     

    "We do not mind participating but the invitation does not carry expectations for a solution," the opposition member said.

     

    An MP from Hezbollah, a Shia political party which is the leading member of the opposition to the March 14 majority, said the proposal would be examined.

     

    "We will deal positively with any initiative from any friendly or brotherly state which will  attempt to help Lebanon out of its crisis," said Hassan Hobballah.

     

    Worst crisis

     

    Lebanon's worst political crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war began last November when opposition ministers quit the cabinet of Fouad Siniora, Lebanon's prime minister.

     

    The ruling majority has consistently refused opposition demands for veto power over cabinet decisions.

     

    The majority has also accused the opposition of trying to block an international tribunal to try those accused in the 2005 killing of Rafiq al-Hariri, a former Lebanese prime minister

     

    Pro-government leaders accuse Syria of involvement in al-Hariri's assassination, a claim rebutted by Damascus.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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