Lebanese head for crisis talks in Qatar

Rival Lebanese leaders head for Qatar on Friday aiming to end a protracted political conflict that pushed the country to the brink of a new civil war.

Lebanese head for crisis talks in Qatar
Leaders of the U.S.-backed ruling coalition and the Hezbollah-led opposition will try to forge a deal to end the standoff which has paralysed government for 18 months and left Lebanon without a president since November.

An Arab League mediation mission sealed an agreement on Thursday which ended fighting between ruling coalition supporters and Hezbollah.

As part of the deal, the sides agreed to meet in Doha. Political sources said on Friday that substantial talks in the Qatari capital were unlikely to start before Saturday.

The ruling coalition's refusal to yield to the opposition's demand for veto power in cabinet triggered the resignation of all its Shi'ite ministers in November 2006. Lebanon was plunged into its worst political crisis since the civil war.

A deal would lead to the election of army commander General Michel Suleiman as president. Both sides have long accepted his nomination for a post reserved for a Maronite Christian in Lebanon's sectarian power-sharing system.

Under a deal, the opposition would also remove a protest encampment that has closed off central Beirut since December, 2006.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Mayıs 2008, 12:24