Lebanon’s Sunni and Shia rivals heading towards reconciliation

September 9th, 2008 - 2:07 am ICT by IANS  

Beirut, Sep 9 (DPA) Sunni and Shia rivals in northern Lebanon are heading towards reconciliation, in a move to curb sectarian fighting, sources close to both sides said Monday.High-ranking leaders of both factions who met on Sunday are scheduled to sign later on Monday a memorandum titled “The Tripoli Document”, which offers, in addition to safeguarding civil peace, to hand over the city’s security to the Lebanese army.

The document also calls for removing all armed presence in north Lebanon, allowing displaced people to return to their homes according to a set timetable and paying compensation for residents whose houses have been damaged during the fighting.

Tripoli has been the scene of a series of deadly clashes since May between Sunnis and rivals from the Alawite community who support Lebanon’s Shia movement Hezbollah, in which 23 people were killed.

The initiative, launched by Sunni ruling-majority leader Saad Hariri, also the head of the Future Current movement, could pave the way for further reconciliations in light of Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah’s announcement that he was open for dialogue with Hariri.

“We are open to dialogue with the Future Current movement and all Sunnis, and if a meeting with MP Saad Hariri is not possible for security reasons, nothing prevents us holding meetings between the parties’ officials,” Nasrallah said during a Ramadan dinner Sunday.

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