Jun 16 2012
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Russia throws weight behind National Dialogue
16 June 2012
BEIRUT: Russia joined the U.S. Friday in voicing support for National Dialogue between Lebanon’s rival political leaders as an essential move for consolidating security in the face of threats posed by 15 months of unrest in Syria.
Also, top Muslim religious chiefs praised this week’s Dialogue session between leaders of the Hezbollah-led March 8 bloc and the opposition March 14 coalition as the only way to rescue the country from the threat of sectarian strife – as a result of the reverberations of the turmoil in Syria.
The Russian ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin discussed with Interior Minister Marwan Charbel the outcome of a new Dialogue session chaired by President Michel Sleiman at Baabda Palace Monday.
He said the recent security incidents in the north had heightened fears by internal and external parties, including Russia, of a spillover of the Syrian crisis into Lebanon.
His remarks came a day after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Prime Minister Najib Mikati to express Washington’s support for the government’s disassociation from the unrest in Syria and for the decisions taken at the Dialogue session.
Clinton also called former Prime Minister Saad Hariri to discuss the situation in Syria and the region.
During their first Dialogue session in over 18 months, rival leaders agreed to avoid speeches that fuel sectarian incitement. The next Dialogue session has been set for June 25.
Meanwhile, Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani hailed the convening of Dialogue, saying it was “a guarantee for reaching an understanding among the Lebanese, reassuring citizens of peace and stability and strengthening national unity.
“The Lebanese reject rifts, disputes and rows which lead only to more suffering and losses for the country and people. Everything, even big problems, can be solved through dialogue,” Qabbani said in his Friday sermon at Salam Mosque in Mazraa.
In another speech on an Islamic religious occasion, Qabbani said Lebanon was going through “very difficult and tough circumstances” that required combined efforts by political leaders.
“The beginning to this salvation is the Dialogue table,” he said.
For his part, Sheikh Abdul-Amir Qabalan, deputy head of the Higher Shiite Council, said during his Friday sermon that he “saluted the national achievement made by the Dialogue sessions, which have reunited the Lebanese and shifted differences to the Dialogue table.”
Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, who represented the Future Movement at the talks, reiterated the March 14 coalition’s demand that Dialogue should eventually lead to the formation of a new government.
Siniora blames the Mikati government’s poor performance for tensions in the country.
“Dialogue must eventually lead to changing this government so that a [new] government can come to follow up on the results of the Dialogue and work to implement them,” he said.
“In order to give Dialogue credibility, we must immediately begin the implementation of what we had agreed on [in previous Dialogue sessions], or else Dialogue will be a distraction and a waste of time,” Siniora told a news conference at his office in Hilalieh, near Sidon.© Copyright The Daily Star 2012.
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