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Lebanon’s Aoun Holds Talks on Hariri Government

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun looks on during a state visit on September 26, 2017 at Hotel de Ville in Paris.
(Getty)

REUTERS: President Michel Aoun held talks on Monday with other Lebanese political leaders over the future of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s government, but gave no sign whether they discussed Hariri’s demand the country steer clear of regional turmoil.

Aoun’s office said the talks were positive and constructive but did not detail steps to address the demands Hariri made after postponing his shock resignation, notably that Lebanese stick by the state policy of staying out of regional conflicts – a reference to Iran-backed Shi‘ite group Hezbollah.

The consultations would continue once Aoun returns on Friday from an official visit to Italy, the statement said.

A senior Lebanese official said the consultations at the presidential palace in Baabda aimed to help Hariri’s government “get back on its feet”, after weeks of political instability triggered by Hariri’s Nov. 4 resignation, announced in Riyadh.

In his resignation speech, Hariri strongly criticised Iran and its heavily armed Lebanese Shi‘ite Muslim ally Hezbollah for meddling in the Arab world. Since returning to Beirut, Hariri has said all Lebanese must stick by the state policy of “disassociation”, or keeping out of regional conflicts – a reference to Hezbollah.

Leading Druze politician Walid Jumblatt, an influential figure in Lebanon, said after meeting Aoun that it was important to talk about “disassociation”, and how to achieve it.

He said it would be wise not to bring up the question of Hezbollah’s weapons in discussions, referring to previous rounds of futile talks on this point.

The senior Lebanese official said the “consultations might end with Lebanon reaffirming the ministerial statement that implicitly includes disassociation”. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as Aoun’s consultations were not over.

Hariri said on Saturday he would not accept “Hezbollah stances that affect our Arab brothers or target the security and stability of their countries”.

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