Turkey, Qatar ministers meet Hezbollah leader, plan more talks

Turkish foreign minister and his Qatari counterpart met Hezbollah leader Nasrallah in Beirut as they carried out a shuttle diplomacy among the leaders.

Turkey, Qatar ministers meet Hezbollah leader, plan more talks

Turkish foreign minister and his Qatari counterpart met Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut as they carried out a shuttle diplomacy on Tuesday among the leaders following the crisis that erupted after collapse of government in Lebanon.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani began a series of talks with Lebanon's political leaders representing its Sunni and Shi'ite Muslim and Christian communities.

"As countries in the region and allies, we can't be observers to Lebanon being dragged into another political crisis," said Davutoglu, who met Iranian officials on Monday.

In a nod to regional linkages, Davutoglu said Turkey wanted to prevent the Lebanese crisis from negatively influencing talks later this week in Istanbul between six world powers and Iran over the Islamic Republic's nuclear programme.

Turkish diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity said Wednesday Davutoglu expressed the importance Turkey attached to preservation of peace and stability in Lebanon during the three-hour meeting. Davutoglu also underlined that stability in Lebanon would contribute to the overall peace and stability in the region.

Diplomats said Davutoglu emphasized the need to carry out the reconciliation efforts in a peaceful manner and to preserve the spirit of national unity.

Turkish foreign minister also exchanged views with Hezbollah leader about the international panel carrying out the investigation into the Hariri assassination.

Consultations among Lebanese politicians on forming a new government, due to start on Monday, were postponed for a week. Hezbollah, which had demanded Hariri cut all Lebanese links with the tribunal, says it will not back him for another term.

Earlier Tuesday diplomatic sources said Davutoglu and Qatar's Premier and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassem Bin Jabor al-Thani also met with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman and had exchanged views sincerely for solution of the problem.

Davutoglu and al-Thani later met with Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and assessed what could be done to overcome actual differences of views between the government and the opposition.

"More talks"

"Clearly Syria and Iran are on one side, Saudi Arabia and maybe the United States on the other," said Paul Salem, head of the Carnegie Endowment's Middle East Centre. "Turkey and Qatar have traditionally been trying to hold the middle."

"It's very difficult to reach an agreement at this stage, with or without regional or external cooperation," Salem said.

But outside powers could help dissuade Hezbollah and its allies from trying to form a government by themselves, excluding the pro-Hariri bulk of the Sunni community, or from turning to civil unrest or violence to get their way, he argued.

"The best we can hope for in this phase is dysfunctionality and paralysis, but without worse developments," Salem added.

Omar Nashabe, an editor at al-Akhbar newspaper, which is sympathetic to Hezbollah, said outside powers often created tension in Lebanon rather than calming it, alluding to what he said were U.S. policies aligned firmly with those of Israel.

"I'm always worried about instability because destabilising Lebanon is in Israel's interests," he said.

For the moment, however, he said Washington would encourage the Turks and Qataris to put pressure on the Syrians to ensure that Hariri remains as prime minister in the next government.

"But Syria and Iran have strong cards. The players here are powerful," he said referring to the Hezbollah-led camp.

Behind the dispute over the tribunal, Lebanon are deeply divided over whether the country should be the front line for armed resistance to Israel, as Hezbollah insists, or step back from the conflict and look to its economic interests.

"Israel will not tolerate the existence of resistance fighters on its northern border who are threatening its security for whatever reason," Nashabe said.

The contents of the draft indictment, which will now be reviewed by pre-trial judge Daniel Fransen, were not revealed, and details of the charge sheet may not emerge for another six to 10 weeks, when Fransen is expected to decide whether there is enough evidence to proceed with a trial.

Tribunal prosecutor Daniel Bellemare said in a televised message released on Tuesday that the tribunal's work was just beginning: "To those who did not expect this day to come, I would say that while justice may be slow, it is deliberate."

Davutoglu and Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jasim bin Jabir Al Thani are expected to meet with Druse leader Velid Canbolad, Maronite leader Michel Aoun and other officials.

The two will re-meet with Prime Minister Saad Hariri and make an assessment of the situation. Davutoglu is expected to conclude his trip to Beirut on Wednesday evening. 

Agencies

  

Related news reports:

Turkey's FM heads to Lebanon for talks including Hezbollah

Last Mod: 19 Ocak 2011, 12:54
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