07/16/2007, 00.00
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Paris meeting only breaks the ice between Lebanese parties

by Youssef Hourani
Cardinal Sfeir expresses again hope that the Paris talks will bring the parties closer together. A bomb slightly damages UNIFIL vehicle as clashes continue in Nahr al-Bared.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Talks between Lebanon’s 14 main political parties in La Celle Saint Cloud Château near Paris on Saturday broke the ice but did not achieve any breakthrough. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner announce that the “dialogue will continue now on Lebanese land” on July 28.

Commentaries in the Lebanese press were relatively restrained today. An Nahar, a daily close to the current ruling majority, said that “there was neither progress nor a checkmate for the Lebanese, neither victory nor defeat for the French.” For the pro-government L’Orient Le Jour “modest ambitions” led to “modest results.” Opposition paper Al Akhbar reported that despite the lack of “tangible results” the meeting allowed participants to “break the ice” in a calm atmosphere.

Different atmosphere at home in Lebanon where a bomb exploded at the Qassmiyeh bridge near the coastal city of Tyre, in the south, “slightly damaging” a UNIFIL vehicle, this according to Lebanon’s National News Agency NNA. Meanwhile the army continued its slow advance into the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in Tripoli against the terrorists of Fatah al-Islam.

Maronite Patriarch Card Nasrallah Sfeir also spoke about the talks at La Celle Saint Cloud Château yesterday in his first Sunday at the Maronite patriarchate in Dimane, in northern Lebanon.

The prelate thanked the French government for the initiative, which is inspired by “hope in bringing closer together the different points of view and establishing communication between the parties.”

“Perhaps they’ll only listen to what their conscience tells them,” he added, “and shall pay more attention to what the younger generations want,” otherwise forced to emigrate.

Mgr Bechara Rahi, Maronite archbishop of Jbeil, celebrated mass in Saint Charbel Monastery on the occasion of the feast day of first Maronite saint, who was canonised by Pope Paul VI, before more than 50,000 faithful who had gathered from many parties of Lebanon and the world.

Mgr Rahi reiterated the need to rediscover the values taught by Saint Charbel, warning against consumerism and theories that favour hatred, violence and terrorism. He also repeated the warning he made last week against the Islamisation of the Lebanon.

For his part, Mgr Guy-Paul Noujeim, in the church of St Charbel in Zouk Mosbeh (not far from where a car bomb exploded a month ago) urged people once more to discover the face of St Charbel, presenting him as an example for the whole of Lebanese society, at present immersed in hatred and consumerism, inviting everyone to live once and for all according to John Paul II’s post-synodal apostolic exhortation because it is based on Lebanon’s reality and can help find solutions to the country’s problems.

Mgr Noujeim also renewed his appeal to young people to make an effort in favour of the country, which shall not die because of the intercession of Saint Chabrel and all the other saints.

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