Naharnet

Reports: Hizbullah-Mustaqbal Talks in Tatters over Conditions

The dialogue between Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal movement should focus on the presidential crisis, a lawmaker from al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc said, a claim that contradicts a statement made by Speaker Nabih Berri about an agreement between the two sides on not putting preconditions for the talks.

The MP, who was not identified, told al-Liwaa newspaper published on Tuesday that the talks between the rival parties should start from the vacuum at Baabda Palace and the sectarian tension gripping the country.

“We want to open the door to dialogue on the election of a president and not to agree on the person” who will reach Baabda, the lawmaker said.

But the MP stressed that the talks between al-Mustaqbal and Hizbullah will not come at the expense of their allies respectively in the March 14 and March 8 alliances.

Berri was quoted as saying on Monday that both Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal movement agreed not to have preconditions on their expected dialogue on the crises gripping the country.

“This issue has been settled and is now behind us,” he said.

He reiterated that efforts are now underway to agree on the agenda of the talks.

“What's important now is for the bilateral dialogue to kick off. The two sides later have the freedom to discuss controversial issues,” Berri said.

Al-Akhbar newspaper further poured cold water on Berri's efforts to bring the two parties closer, saying al-Mustaqbal bloc leader MP Fouad Saniora was trying to convince the movement's leader former Prime Minister Saad Hariri that dialogue with Hizbullah was useless.

Saniora wants dialogue to be limited to the presidential crisis and Hizbullah's involvement in Syria's war, the daily added.

It quoted sources close to Hariri as saying, however, that the Mustaqbal chief wants to go ahead with the talks.

Hariri is scheduled to make an important announcement on the issue during a TV appearance on Thursday.

Disagreements between Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal lie mainly on the presidency and the war in neighboring Syria.

Al-Mustaqbal officials have been calling on Hizbullah to withdraw its members from Syria. The party has sent its fighters to help troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad against the rebels.

G.K.

H.K.


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