Beirut bloc urges pressure on Syria

Appeal comes as Saudi and Egyptian leaders decide to stay away from Damascus summit.

    Al-Muallem has denied that Syria is responsible for
    the prolonged political deadlock in Lebanon [AFP]

    Syria accuses the March 14 camp, the West and Arab states like Saudi Arabia of blocking presidential elections in Lebanon which has left the country without a president since the end of November.
     
    Beirut urged Arab states to work to make Damascus stop what it termed "its intolerable and repeated attempts to restore its era of hegemony and tutelage in the country".
     
    Syria ended a three-decade military presence in Lebanon in 2005.
     
    Power struggle
     
    The Lebanese government, which is backed by countries including the US and Saudi Arabia, has been locked in a power struggle since November 2006 with an opposition alliance backed by Syria and led by Hezbollah.
     
    In a snub to Syria, Lebanon has refused to attend the summit in Damascus.
     
    Saudi Arabia and Egypt have said they will send only low-level representation to the conference in apparent protest against Syria's perceived role in Lebanon.
     
    In addition to addressing the deadlock in Lebanon, the Arab summit is expected to focus also on Iraq and the fate of an Arab peace initiative toward Israel.
     
    Biggest failure
     
    Fares Soueid, one of the leaders of Lebanon's March 14 coalition, said that the Damascus meeting would be "the biggest failure in the history of Arab summits".
     
    But Walid al-Muallem, the Syrian foreign minister, dismissed accusations that Syria was prolonging the deadlock in Beirut.
     
    "The effort has to come from all Arab parties with friendships and influence in Lebanon. I point especially to Saudi Arabia which wields a big influence on the ruling majority," he said.
     
    "Syria wants a stable, sovereign Lebanon. Anyone who thinks otherwise is mistaken. We are the first to be hurt from a worsening situation in Lebanon and we will be the first to benefit from stability."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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