Hezbollah ready for dialogue as normality returns to Beirut

May 15th, 2008 - 9:38 pm ICT by admin  

DPA
Beirut, May 15 (DPA) The pro-Iranian Shia movement Hezbollah said Thursday it was ready for dialogue with the Western-backed ruling majority to safeguard the unity of the government. “We should solve the issue inside the Lebanese arena and are ready for dialogue to end the Lebanese crisis,” Hezbollah’s deputy secretary General Sheikh Naeem Kassem said.

“We want dialogue to save Lebanon’s independence, integrity and institutions,” he said.

He praised the Lebanese army and vowed that Hezbollah arms would not be used internally.

“No one should ever think in this country that he can rule the country alone,” Kassem told reporters.

Kassem said that Hezbollah recognizes “the other” and demanded that the other party to the conflict recognize the Shia group.

“Revoking the two government decisions was the key to returning to the previous status quo,” Kassem said.

“We want to work hand in hand in order to build Lebanon. Neither American intervention nor external meddling is in the interest of Lebanon,” Kassem added.

He stressed that Hezbollah backs the election of Lebanese army commander Michel Suleiman as president of the country.

Meanwhile, the Arab delegation who arrived in Lebanon Wednesday to try to end the crisis in the country, said it expected to announce talks in Qatar to resolve the political crisis that has paralyzed Lebanon for the last 18 months.

The Arab delegation held talks Thursday with Hezbollah leaders in Beirut’s southern suburbs, House Speaker Nabih Berri and Premier Fouad Seniora.

They are scheduled to hold a press conference later Thursday to announce the outcome of their talks.

The latest tension between the opposition led by Hezbollah and the Western-backed ruling majority led to six days of bloody clashes in which at least 82 people were killed and more than 250 wounded.

The government cancelled late Wednesday its decision to probe the Hezbollah communications network and sack the airport security chief Colonel Wafik Choukair and left it in the hands of the army.

This was one of Hezbollahs’s main conditions before it would put an end to the civil disobedience and open all roads in and at the outskirts of the capital.

The roadblocks, including barricades on the airport road, are expected to be lifted Thursday after the Arab League delegation, headed by the prime minister of Qatar, announces an agreement on the talks to be held in Doha.

The delegation’s talks focused on the dispute over how to share power in the cabinet and the details of a new parliamentary election law. The row has left Lebanon with no president since November.

The dispute is seen as a struggle for influence between Syria, which backs the opposition, and Saudi Arabia, which supports the ruling coalition.

In the meantime, Lebanese army troops were seen deploying around Beirut International Airport in preparation for opening the airport road after forced closure by the opposition.

Lebanon’s national carrier Middle East Airlines (MEA) said Thursday its planes would start landing at Beirut’s airport at midnight Thursday.
DPA

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