Arab League chief to hold crisis talks with Lebanon leaders

Pro-government leaders have not agreed to the talks, although they asked parliamentary majority leader Saad al-Hariri to negotiate with Berri on their behalf.

Arab League chief to hold crisis talks with Lebanon leaders
Arab League chief Amr Moussa will hold talks in Beirut this week to try to help rival leaders reach a deal to end Lebanon's political crisis, political sources said on Tuesday.

Moussa, who has made several unsuccessful attempts to mediate since the crisis began 17 months ago, will meet leaders of the U.S.-backed ruling coalition and the Hezbollah-led opposition on Thursday, the sources said.

He would be visiting the Lebanese capital to attend an Arab economic conference on May 2 and 3.

Moussa has been entrusted by the Arab League with implementing a three-point plan designed to end Lebanon's most serious crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.

The plan calls for the election of army commander General Michel Suleiman as president, the formation of a national unity government and a new law for the 2009 general election.

Rival camps agree on Suleiman but differ on the other two issues.

Lebanon's parliament will try to elect Suleiman on May 13 in what would be the 19th attempt to choose a president.

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who is a Syrian-backed opposition leader, had called on rival leaders to hold round-table talks before the scheduled session.

Pro-government leaders have not agreed to the talks, although they asked parliamentary majority leader Saad al-Hariri to negotiate with Berri on their behalf.

The opposition wants a deal on the new government and the law organising next year's general election before choosing a new head of state.

Majority leaders argue that the priority is to elect a new president who would then oversee the formation of a new government and the adoption of the new election law.

The crisis has paralysed much of government, left the presidency vacant since November and led to lethal street violence in a country still rebuilding from its 15-year civil war.

Saudi Arabia and the United States head Arab and Western countries that back Beirut's ruling coalition.

The Lebanese rivals have agreed that Suleiman should fill the presidency, vacant since the term of pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud expired in November.

Reuters
Last Mod: 29 Nisan 2008, 17:23
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