World Bulletin / News Desk
Lebanese militant group Hezbollah on Monday failed to show up for a national dialogue session called for by President Michel Suleiman.
The session is meant to discuss a "national defense strategy" with the ultimate aim of resolving the longstanding controversy over Hezbollah's arms.
Hezbollah's absence was intended to protest recent statements by Suleiman in which he criticized the movement.
Three other Lebanese political forces likewise failed to show up for Monday's session.
Meanwhile, 15 members of the National Dialogue Committee – which is made up of representatives of the country's diverse political forces and which seeks to forge a national defense strategy – attended the meeting.
Suleiman has had to postpone scheduled dialogue sessions twice in recent months amid intensifying political conflict in Lebanon due to Hezbollah's involvement in the ongoing war in next-door Syria.
Differences between Suleiman and Hezbollah widened early this month after Suleiman described the militant group's discourse as "inflexible."
"Suleiman is no longer an impartial arbitrator," Hezbollah lawmaker Kamel al-Refai told Anadolu Agency.
"He's become a party to the conflict; one with an external and internal agenda that makes national dialogue neither productive nor positive," he said.
Citing upcoming presidential polls slated for June, the lawmaker described the dialogue's timing as "inappropriate."
"We're ready to participate in the dialogue – with open hearts and without preconditions – once a new president is elected," al-Refai asserted.
According to previous statements by the presidency, Monday's dialogue session is aimed at reaching consensus on Suleiman's proposals for a national defense strategy.
Under Suleiman's proposal, Hezbollah would put its arsenal under the control of the Lebanese Army, which would have a legal monopoly on the use of force.
Hezbollah, however, would be allowed to activate "resistance" activity in the event of invasion by an external power.
The last dialogue session was held in November of 2012, when Suleiman first tabled the proposal. The initiative was suspended, however, amid deep political differences over Hezbollah's military involvement in Syria, where it has continued to support the Damascus regime.Last Mod: 31 Mart 2014, 15:43