Karami ready to quit, but Lahud firm

Lebanese Prime Minister Umar Karami has signalled his willingness to concede to opposition demands to resign, but President Emile Lahud has refused to succumb to the pressure.

    Karami will seek a vote of confidence in parliament

    Lahud said his government would not bow as repercussions of the 14 February assassination of former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri continued to ripple across the nation.


    However, speaking to Aljazeera on the phone from Beirut, Karam Karam, Lebanese minister of state, said the government did not favour continuing disagreement over the killing of al-Hariri.  


    "I am for the resignation of the government if that will overcome the current crisis and pave the way for a serious dialogue among all sides," he added. 


    Prime Minister Karami told the An-Nahar newspaper: "I am ready to resign on condition that we agree on a new government in order to avoid falling into a constitutional vacuum." 


    Confidence vote


    However, he said he would seek a vote of confidence in parliament on Monday, when lawmakers are to discuss the assassination. The debate was

    requested by opposition legislators.


    Lahud (L) says the way to resolve
    problems is through dialogue 

    "If the result is a no-confidence motion, we are ready and will bow to the will of the legislators," Karami said.


    As his remarks appeared in one paper, President Emile Lahud took a tougher line in another. Both he and Karami in the separate interviews called for dialogue, but Lahud said there could be no action under pressure.


    In an interview with the Sada al-Balad newspaper, Lahud said the government "cannot succumb to opposition demands", adding that the only way to solve problems was through dialogue.


    Lahud, in the interview, said the withdrawal of the Syrian army from Lebanon could only be decided in line with a 1989 Arab-brokered agreement, shrugging off UN, American and French demands for a total, immediate pullout.


    Under that agreement, Syrian troops were to have staged a gradual redeployment to the east of the country near Syria's border in the early 1990s, with a full pullout to be discussed by both governments later.


    Mubarak gesture


    Mubarak has sent his most trusted
    troubleshooter to Syria

    In Cairo, Egyptian President Husni Mubarak sent his most trusted troubleshooter to Syria on Wednesday on a mission to ease tensions created with Lebanon since al-Hariri's assassination.


    Presidential spokesman Sulaiman Awad said Mubarak had asked intelligence chief Omar Suleiman to go to Damascus following a telephone conversation on Tuesday between Mubarak and Syrian President Bashar al-Asad.


    Mubarak is a longstanding ally of Syria and his government has kept well away from international calls for an immediate withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon following al-Hariri's death.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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