Arab League leaders in Beirut to mediate political crisisMarch 17th, 2008 - 3:05 am ICT by admin
Beirut, March 17 (DPA) A delegation of parliamentarians commissioned by the Arab League arrived in Beirut Sunday in a bid to break the deep political crisis in Lebanon. “We in the Arab world are concerned with the great rift in Lebanon as well as the fragile security situation,” Mohammed Jassem al-Saqr, head of the Arab Parliament, told reporters in Beirut.
“We will do all we can for national reconciliation in Lebanon,” said Saqr at the start of a visit due to last several days.
The delegation is to meet Fouad Seniora, Prime Minister in the Western-backed government of Lebanon, and parliament speaker Nabih Berri, a member of the Hezbollah-led opposition backed by Syria and Iran.
“If the situation requires…we will go to Syria,” Saqr said.
Damascus is due to host the Arab summit March 29-30 and several Arab countries have linked the level of their participation at the summit to the election of a president in Lebanon.
Egypt and Saudi Arabia have openly accused Syria - which was Lebanon’s powerbroker for decades - of obstructing the vote.
Lebanese parliament is scheduled to meet March 25 to elect a new president after 16 previous attempts were postponed amid deadlock over the make-up of a future government.
Lebanon has been without a president since last November after pro-Syrian Emile Lahoud quit at the end of his term.
Lebanon has been invited to the Arab summit by Syria, but the anti-Syrian March 14 coalition has called on the government not to attend.
“We refuse to sit on the same table with (Syrian president) Bashar al Assad,” said Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh, a member of the March 14 coalition.
The Lebanese cabinet is due to a hold a weekly meeting next week to decide on the participation on the summit. The cabinet would need a third of its members to take the decision.
Lebanese-Syrian ties have been tense since the 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri. Syria has been accused by the anti-Syrian Lebanese leaders of being behind the killing, a charge Damascus has denied.
Tags: arab countries, arab league, arab summit, arab world, bashar al assad, beirut march, emile lahoud, former prime minister, fragile security, government of lebanon, jassem, lebanese parliament, marwan hamadeh, nabih berri, national reconciliation, parliament speaker, powerbroker, prime minister rafik hariri, syria and iran, syrian president bashar al