Jumblat, Aoun Discuss Army Support, Presidential Deadlock

Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat and Free Patriotic Movement chief Michel Aoun discussed on Tuesday the presidential deadlock and the importance of backing the Lebanese army.

Jumblat left Rabieh without addressing reporters but the two parties later issued a joint statement describing their meeting as “frank and friendly.”

The talks “focused on several issues, mainly Lebanon's battle with terrorism,” it said.

Aoun and Jumblat “stressed unconditional and absolute support to the Lebanese army,” and discussed ways to confront the growing challenges, including the activation of constitutional institutions and the speedy election of a president.

The two lawmakers, who head parliamentary blocs, also discussed the importance of keeping contacts between the PSP and the FPM to bring the Lebanese closer, the statement said.

Jumblat's meeting with Aoun came amid a report that Hizbullah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah advised the PSP chief to hold talks with the lawmaker.

“We have a president … He is Aoun and we continue to back him,” As Safir daily quoted Nasrallah as telling Jumblat, a centrist.

“You shouldn't talk only to me. Go see Aoun and agree with him,” the Hizbullah chief reportedly said.

Lebanon has been without a president since May 25 when Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended amid a failure by parliament to elect a successor over differences on a compromise candidate.

The March 14 alliance has backed the candidacy of Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea. But the Hizbullah-led March 8 camp has not officially announced its support for Aoun, who has claimed that he would run for the presidency only if there was consensus on him.

Jumblat visited Nasrallah last month to discuss the presidential crisis.



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