France pursues Lebanon diplomacy

The French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, has arrived in Lebanon as he continues to try to break the political deadlock in the country.

France pursues Lebanon diplomacy
Mr Kouchner's visit is an effort to resolve tensions between supporters of Lebanon's Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora, and the pro-Syrian opposition.

It is a follow-up to a conference France hosted earlier this month.

So far, every attempt to bring Lebanon's feuding political factions to the table has failed.

The two sides are still deeply divided, with tensions expected to escalate in the next few months over the appointment of a successor to the Christian and pro-Syrian President, Emile Lahoud.

Unity government

Lebanon has been deadlocked since November when the Shia Hezbollah-led opposition, backed by Syria and Iran, withdrew from the cabinet demanding a unity government in which it would have the power of veto.

Mr Kouchner will spend the weekend talking to the political leaders of 14 Muslim and Christian factions.

The French have also been consulting several Arab countries concerned with the Lebanese crisis, including Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to try to find backing for a solution.

During the talks in Damascus the Syrians are said to have told the French a solution must begin with the formation of a unity government before any agreement on a new president can be found.

But the anti-Syrian Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has already signalled that changing the make-up of the government before electing the new president would make it much harder to find a compromise candidate.

This weekend, Mr Kouchner is going to need all his diplomatic skills.



AP

Güncelleme Tarihi: 28 Temmuz 2007, 11:36
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