Naharnet

Paris Keen on Solving Lebanon Crisis but Reportedly Facing Syrian Obstruction

Efforts are underway by France to launch an initiative to solve the Lebanese crisis following the government's collapse but Syria has reportedly rejected a French mediation.

"Paris is keen on solving the Lebanese crisis through dialogue with the different Lebanese sides and with this country's neighbors," French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie told pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat in remarks published Friday.

Paris "is working through international consultations to help Lebanon overcome this crisis," she said.

Informed Elysee Palace sources told An Nahar that Paris was authorized by the U.S. to end the deadlock and guarantee stability in Lebanon.

Although Riyadh welcomed France's effort to launch an initiative or prepare for a summit, Damascus rejected the move that would involve Lebanon, France, Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and Syria, the sources said.

Damascus' rejection came due to its belief that it should have the upper hand in deciding the fate of Lebanon, they told An Nahar.

However, informed French sources denied to pan-Arab daily al-Hayat that Syrian President Bashar Assad objected to a French initiative on Lebanon during a phone conversation with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy.

They said any meeting would be based on the respect and protection of Lebanese state institutions and the international tribunal.

The reports were confirmed by a European diplomat who said Friday that France is calling for the creation of an international "contact group" on Lebanon.

"The contact group would include Syria, Saudi Arabia, France, the United States, Qatar, Turkey and possibly other countries with a stake in Lebanon," the diplomat told Agence France Presse.

"The group would meet outside of Lebanon given the current tensions in the country," the diplomat added.

Source: Agence France Presse, Naharnet


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