Lebanon rivals set for first talks in nearly five months

Lebanon's feuding government and opposition leaders are poised to hold their first talks in nearly five months under Arab League auspices on Friday, an aide to the opposition leader said.

Lebanon rivals set for first talks in nearly five months
"The (opposition) speaker of parliament Nabih Berri and the leader of the (pro-government) Future Movement Saad Hariri will meet on Friday for talks also to be attended by (Arab League Secretary General Amr) Mussa," a Berri aide said late on Thursday.

The announcement followed talks between the visiting Arab League chief and Berri.

Mussa, who has been involved in repeated efforts to broker a solution to the standoff, expressed new optimism after his latest talks.

"There is a basis for understanding and a situation that could prove profitable," he said after his hour-long meeting with Berri.

The Arab League chief stressed both the "importance of dialogue" between the two sides, the opposition's key demand, and the "need to elect a new president," the consistent demand of the government.

The two sides have agreed on a compromise candidate for the presidency -- army chief General Michel Sleiman. However, they remain at odds over the make-up of a mooted government of national unity and a new electoral law.

Berri has repeatedly called for a dialogue with pro-government factions on the two issues but the Western-backed prime minister has said that a new president must be elected by parliament first.

A 19th attempt to elect a president has been scheduled for May 13. A previous session, set for April 22, was postponed amid continuing disagreement.

Agencies
Last Mod: 02 Mayıs 2008, 16:37
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