Hariri’s meeting with Clinton “excellent”

8 Jan

Yesterday Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri headed to New York to meet with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the current political deadlock in Lebanon.  Because Lebanon’s government share power between the three major religious groups (Christian, Shi’a and Sunni), political talks have been more or less halted as tension rises over the UN probe into the 2005 murder of Rafik Hariri.

Hariri told pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat that the New York-based talks were geared towards “boosting the mediation efforts that are a guarantee to Lebanon’s stability.”  He also said that Saudi-Syrian mediation had led to an agreement in November but accused the Shiite militant movement Hezbollah of not fulfilling its side of the deal.  “Any commitment on my part will not be carried out until the other party (Hezbollah) implements what they agreed to.”

The Syrian-Saudi deal apparently calls for clear steps to ease tensions in Lebanon and reduce rhetoric among the rival political parties. “All of the steps centre on a single objective which is domestic stability and the ability of Lebanon to absorb the indictment,” a government official said.   However, the official also said that such hopes have, so far, been thwarted.  “The government has been paralysed for months and the political leaders should be able to discuss issues and that has not been happening.”  He blames Hezbollah, pointing out “the ball is in their court.”  The accusation, however, risks escalating the situation further, as one ‘side’ continues to blame another.

In a sign of hope for the country as regions all over the Middle East struggle against attempts to divide people according to their religious beliefs, Sa’ad Hariri told Al-Hayat that the chances of Lebanon’s renowned sectarian political system.  “Anyone who thinks that a government other than a national unity government can revive this country needs to think again.”

Clinton also met with Saudi King Abdullah, who is in New York recovering from back surgery, and in reports published today described her talks with both men as “excellent.”

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