Solana says EU backs Arab plan for Lebanon

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Tuesday the European Union backs an Arab plan to end the Lebanese political crisis.

Solana says EU backs Arab plan for Lebanon
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Tuesday the European Union backs an Arab plan to end the Lebanese political crisis, and he called for electing a Lebanese president before the Arab summit due at the end of March.

"We support the Arab plan to end the Lebanese political stalemate," Solana told reporters after meeting house speaker Nabih Berri.

"I think electing a president in Lebanon should be done before the Arab summit due in Syria in March," he added.

Lebanon's ruling majority and the opposition have been locked in a 16-month-old political deadlock that has left the country without a president since November.

Arab League mediation has so far failed to break the impasse which has forced the presidential election to be postponed 15 times since September.

The three-point plan is aimed at immediately electing army commander General Michel Suleiman as president and proceeding to form a government of national unity and draft a new electoral law.

At a press conference following his meeting with Seniora, Solana said he would visit Cairo after Lebanon and meet with Egyptian president Hosny Mubarak. A visit to Syria was not on his schedule for this trip.

He ruled out European countries having any new plan to end the crisis in Lebanon, and reiterated the only plan to save Lebanon was that of the Arab League.

Reports in Beirut said Tuesday a new round of discussions between Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa and Berri raised "new ideas to settle the Lebanese crises."

Berri told the daily as-Safir he was "still betting on the Arab initiative," disclosing that there are "new ideas which we are working on to reach a consensus solution," without elaborating.

"The discussions showed an Arab willingness to listen to both opposition and ruling coalition points of view, away from tense atmosphere in Beirut," the daily said.

Meanwhile, al-Akhbar daily, which is close to Hezbollah, reported that a number of phone discussions between Mussa and Berri proposed "new ideas" to reach an agreement before the next presidential election session scheduled for March 11.

Meetings between Lebanese delegates from the opposition and ruling coalition, sponsored by Mussa in Cairo, were considered in the discussions, said the report.

Agencies
Last Mod: 05 Mart 2008, 13:17
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