The national dialogue resumed its sessions on Monday “amid positive talks” with gatherers agreeing on committing to international resolutions and controlling Lebanon’s border.
The concluding statement said: “We reject the formation of a buffer zone with Syria and the use of Lebanon as an open ground for smuggling arms to Syria.”
Furthermore, it highlighted the need to keep Lebanon away from regional and international disputes, “in order to maintain its national unity and civil peace.”
On local developments, the statement urged citizens against resorting to arms to end disputes, instead calling on them to turn to legal and state institutions.
Despite the positive atmosphere that pervaded the Baabda Palace talks, a disagreement emerged between the March 14 factions and the March 8-dominated government forces at the meeting, reported LBC.
Only sixteen leaders attended the session after Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea said the LF will boycott the dialogue for being useless.
Al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-Premier Saad Hariri was also absent for being abroad. Finance Minister Mohammed Safadi did not attend for health reasons.
Another major absentee is veteran journalist Ghassan Tueni who died on Friday. Tueni, who had dubbed the all-party talks the national dialogue committee, represented the Greek Orthodox sect in former sessions.
The gatherers renewed their “trust in Lebanon as the center for mutual coexistence, stressing the need to commit to the principles that were stipulated in the constitution that will serve as the foundations for the country.”
They also voiced their commitment to the Taef accord “with any suggestion to develop or modify any of its articles be taken through consensus and in accordance with constitutional mechanisms.”
In light of the recent unrest in Lebanon, the gatherers called on “citizens to be aware that resorting to violence and weapons will inevitably lead to losses to all concerned sides and affect generations to come.”
They stressed the need to establish stability in Lebanon “in order to avert strife.”
This issue will be studied further in order to reach political methods to achieve this goal, added the statement.
An agreement was reached to resort to dialogue and calm political and media rhetoric in order to ease the tensions in Lebanon “in a manner that would achieve national unity and fortify Lebanon against external dangers, especially Israel.”
“This will positively affect the public opinion and economic, tourist, and social sectors,” continued the final statement.
Moreover, the gatherers agreed on bolstering state institutions “and the mentality of turning to the law and legitimate institutions to resolve any dispute.”
They stressed the need to support the army “on the moral and financial levels seeing as it is the main factor in maintaining peace and national unity.”
They agreed to continue on studying the necessary mechanisms to implement the decisions of previous dialogue sessions.
“The national dialogue concluding statement will serve as a declaration that all sides will commit to and a copy of it will be handed to the Arab League and United Nations,” said the statement.
The last dialogue session was held 19 months ago and the next session will be held on June 25 at the Baabda Palace.
At the start of Monday’s national dialogue session, President Michel Suleiman urged the sixteen Lebanese leaders at the talks to assume their national responsibilities and discuss controversial issues by toning down the political rhetoric.
The sixth session under Suleiman since his election in 2008 comes amid fears that tension in northern Lebanon and gunfights between armed groups will push the country to the brink of civil war.
Suleiman said in his invitation that the March 8 majority and March 14 opposition leaders will discuss the defense strategy and how to benefit from Hizbullah’s arms, ways to disarm Palestinians bases outside the refugee camps and resolve the proliferation of weapons in Lebanese cities.
“We have a national responsibility. We don’t mind to agree and discuss all (controversial) topics but that should be accompanied by a toned down political rhetoric and limited tension on the streets ahead of the tourism season,” the president said in his opening remarks.
“We should hold discussions with open spirits to reach solutions because the Lebanese are pinning high hopes on this meeting,” he said, calling for holding consecutive sessions at a fast rate.
Suleiman also stressed the positivity of the previous dialogue and the prospects of the next stage.
The meeting was preceded by closed-door talks between Suleiman and Premier Najib Miqati and later between the president and Speaker Nabih Berri.
The March 14 forces handed Suleiman a “salvation memo” on Saturday, reiterating their call for the formation of a neutral cabinet and addressing non-state arms.
An Nahar daily quoted sources as saying that the president “took notice” of the memo but it is not likely to be placed on the agenda of the dialogue which requires consensus among the committee members.
In his statement, Miqati vowed that his cabinet will implement the decisions reached by the conferees.
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