Lebanon's Jumblatt still open to dialogue with opposition

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Lebanon's Jumblatt still open to dialogue with opposition

Post by Admin on Thu Apr 24, 2008 3:03 pm

A
leading member of Lebanon's governing coalition said in comments
published on Wednesday that dialogue was the only solution to the
18-month-old standoff with the opposition, but added that it must
address the question of Hezbollah weaponry.

Druze leader
Walid Jumblatt's comments were markedly more conciliatory in tone than
the position of some majority parliamentarians, who have rejected a
call for dialogue from parliament speaker and opposition stalwart Nabih
Berri.


"The
crisis will only be resolved through dialogue whereby each side makes
meaningful concessions to the other side," Jumblatt told the leftist
pro-opposition daily As-Safir.


The
deadlock between the Western-backed government and the Iranian- and
Syrian-backed opposition has left Lebanon without a president since
last November -- and the government unable to pass legislation since
2006.

Berri issued his call for dialogue after talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on April 7.

He
said the dialogue should tackle two key matters of dispute -- the
formation of a government of national unity and the drafting of a new
electoral law.


The governing coalition, which also embraces Christian and leftist factions, has yet to take a joint position.
Jumblatt
said that any dialogue had to address what he said was the most
important issue -- the future of the weapons still held by Shiite
militant group Hezbollah, a key opposition group.


"This
issue needs to be resolved in accordance with domestic, regional and
international circumstances, with the knowledge that there is no
alternative in the long term to these weapons being in the hands of the
state," Jumblatt said.


Hezbollah says it needs to keep its arms to "resist the constant threat" posed by Israel.

The
ruling coalition retorts that the weapons give Hezbollah a monopoly on
the decision to go to war that ought to be in the hands of the state,
especially after the devastating 2006 conflict between Israel and
Hezbollah.


UN
Security Council Resolution 1701, which set the terms of the ceasefire
that ended that 34-day war, calls for the disarmament of all Lebanese
militias.


Picture:
Lebanese Druze leader and a leading member of Lebanon's governing
coalition Walid Jumblatt (C) arrives at the parliament building in
Beirut on April 22. Jumblatt has said in comments published in the
As-Safir daily that dialogue was the only solution to the 18-month-old
standoff with the opposition, but added that it must address the
question of Hezbollah weaponry. (AFP/Anwar Amro)


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