03/05/2007, 00.00
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Beirut hopeful following Saudi-Iranian summit

by Youssef Hourany
More and more people expect a solution to the political crisis. Saudis “guarantee” Syria that the international tribunal examining the Hariri assassination will only consider the criminal, not the political aspects of the case. Patriarch Sfeir calls on Christians not to create contrasts and divisions in vote to the Maronite League.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Hope is in the air in Beirut following the meeting in Saudi Arabia of Saudi King Abdallah and Iranian President Mahmoud Ajmadinejad. Both leaders said they were committed to a solution to the crisis in Lebanon and peace in Palestine and Iraq. The first visit by Serge Brammertz, head of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, is another important positive sign.

As Safir newspaper reported today that according to Arab diplomatic sources, Saudi Arabia gave Syria a “guarantee” that the international tribunal examining charges related to the Hariri murder would not have any political repercussions for Syria. Hence Damascus could drop its opposition to the tribunal, which is one of the main causes of Lebanon’s political crisis.

In Beirut, National Assembly Speaker Nabih Berri said in a statement that “the chances of a solution this time are greater than at any previous time” and “might appear within 48 hours.” He backed the overall deal between King Abdallah and President Ahmadinejad.  Although he did not provide any details about any possible solution, he did mention that Syria might be indirectly involved. He said he was optimistic about and open to any “impartial” Arab initiative.

In a phone interview with AsiaNews the deputy president of the Higher Shia Council Sheikh Abd El Amir Kabalan, said he “trusted the wisdom of the king of Arabia,” stressing the need to “remove the false barriers built by the enemies of Islam.”

For his part, the Secretary-General of the Arab League Amr Moussa said at the end of the organisation’s monthly meetings ahead of the March 27 summit in Riyadh that he was hopeful in the Arabs’ capacity to find a solution.

The summit he said will be an “important occasion to find an Arab agreement that will back efforts to find a solution to the Lebanese crisis”. At the same time “Lebanon’s [warring] parties must become aware that their role that is equally important to regional and international efforts. Now one does anything better than one self.”

Maronite Patriarch, Card Nasrallah Sfeir, during Sunday mass in Bkerke made another attempt to defuse intra-Maronite tensions when he renewed his appeal to all Maronite parties to follow their conscience. He deplored divisions in the community as Maronite prepare for next March 25 elections to the Higher Council of the Maronite league.

The patriarch said that he hoped an agreement could be reached between all the candidates to save the unity of the league on the basis of the everlasting principles of the Gospel and for the good of the Maronite Church.

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See also
Some positive moves from Riyadh summit for Israel, not for Lebanon
A ray of hope as Moussa gets Hariri and Aoun to meet
After winning the armed confrontation, Hizbollah is preparing to cash in politically
Moussa to stay on another day as operations end in Nahar al-Bared
Maronite bishops urge Christian leaders to reconcile


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