French, Syrian FMs meet on Lebanon

Lebanon's parliament failed to hold a session to elect a president on Tuesday.

French, Syrian FMs meet on Lebanon
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner met Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem in Kuwait on Tuesday to discuss the crisis in Lebanon, the first such meeting since Paris suspended high-level contacts with Damascus in December.

The talks covered "the situation in Lebanon," Kouchner said after the meeting in Kuwait on the sidelines of a conference on Iraq.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy ordered normal contacts with Syria broken off in December, accusing Damascus of the crisis in Lebanon.

Kouchner had last met with Muallem in Turkey in November during another conference on Iraq among neighbouring countries and world powers.

The French chief diplomat was deeply involved in attempts to resolve the Lebanese crisis last year, visiting the country seven times.

Kouchner's aides cautioned against expecting concrete results from Tuesday's meeting.

"You must talk to everyone, including those with whom you disagree, so that there is no misunderstanding," said a diplomat with the French delegation in Kuwait.

"We have a real disagreement with the Syrians. We talk to them without having illusions, and while maintaining a distance," he said.

Kouchner met Muallem ahead of a meeting on Lebanon that was due to be held on the sidelines of the Iraq conference later Tuesday.

Syria was not invited to that meeting.

No president again

Meanwhile, Lebanon's parliament failed to hold a session to elect a president on Tuesday -- the 18th time the chamber has been unable to hold a vote derailed by the worst political crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri did not set a new election date and instead called on rival leaders to hold roundtable talks.

"In one, two or three days at most if I don't find a (positive) response for the dialogue, I will set a new session," Berri, also an opposition leader, told reporters after parliament failed to hold the vote due to lack of two-thirds quorum.

Last Mod: 22 Nisan 2008, 16:08
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