03/09/2007, 00.00
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Talks between Berri and Hariri “positive”, both will meet again “very soon”

by Paul Dakiki
A joint statement released at the end of last nights meeting states that the Parliament President and leader of the ruling majority have an “identical point of view” on fundamental issues and that other important questions will require further discussion. Hariri visits Patriarch Sfeir.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – President of the Lebanese Parliament Nabih Berri and leader of the ruling majority Saad Hariri have defined their lengthy meeting held yesterday evening as “positive”.  According to the daily newspaper As Safir, Berri judged the encounter to be significant, not only for the mere fact that it took place, but moreover for the “positive and reciprocal desire to reassure the Lebanese people of their present and future”.

A joint statement issued today speaks of “frank” dialogue.  “During the meeting – the document reads – an identical view point on issues of fundamental importance was expressed.  Notwithstanding this, other key questions will require further consultations”. Berri and Hariri concluded the note, “agree on the need for further dialogue and a date will be soon set”.

For his part, previous to the meeting, Hariri maintained that the ruling majority “could only accept a ‘no winners no losers’ formula” , which had been put forward by the secretary general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, as part of his attempts at mediation. Hariri’s words confirm the ruling party’s refusal to accept the opposition proposal to form a national unity government in which it would have the “third block”, in short a third of all ministers, in which case according to the nation’s constitution, they could block any government decision.  “I don’t want to speak of formula’s”, was Hariri’s reply to the question of government formation, adding that any eventual formula would have to follow the guidelines set out by the “inter-Lebanese dialogue”, that is the inter party meetings which took place at the end of last year.  “What’s important – he added – is that we resolve the current crises that are afflicting the country.  In reality – he concluded – at the moment each group is firmly rooted in their position, but if Berri is optimistic, then I am optimistic”.

There was no statement following last nights meeting between Berri and Hariri, which took place in the Parliament President’s residence in Ain el-Tine, but today a common declaration may be issued.  

Yesterday before his meeting with Berri, Hariri had paid a visit to the Republic’s Gran Mufti Mohammad Rachid Kabbani and to Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir. The Lebanese national press agency refers that previous to his journey to Bkerke; Hariri had sent a message to the Patriarch which outlined possible solutions to the crises. “I informed the Patriarch of my visits to Saudi Arabia, Belgium and France”, Hariri said following the encounter, adding that the ruling party hopes to see the establishment of an international tribunal – to try those responsible for the assassination of the ex Premier Rafik Hariri – “by legal means and without recourse to chapter VII of the UN charter”, which foresees coercion should peace be threatened.

Regarding a future government, “there were many formulas on the table for discussion, now there is a new one and I want to speak about it with Berri. There is a certain amount of hope now”.


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Patriarch and bishops offer their help to end the political crises
Sfeir: we need a “Lebanese solution” to crises that has gone on for too long
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Bishops act to end divisions between Maronite political leaders
Maronite bishops say new solutions needed to end crisis


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