Naharnet

Sarkozy Hosts Berri: Should Thwart Attempts to Transform Lebanon into an Iranian Base

House Speaker Nabih Berri is expected to head to Paris on Tuesday to hold talks with a number of French officials on the situation in Lebanon, bilateral ties, and regional matters, reported the daily An Nahar Saturday.

Spokesperson for the French Foreign Minister, Bernard Valero, said in a statement that the visit "is a new opportunity for France to voice its support for the Lebanese government and Lebanon's unity and independence."

He added that the situation in Lebanon "has become a cause for concern and contacts are being made at all levels in order to avert the impending dangers."

"Speaker Berri has maintained a moderate stance away from the internal and regional escalatory tones and his position as head of parliament will lead him to reach consensus through a settlement," the statement said.

Paris is expected to reiterate its support for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and call on Berri to contribute to holding "constructive dialogue that will lead to agreement and understanding" and thwart attempts to transform Lebanon into an Iranian base on the Mediterranean, reported An Nahar.

Furthermore, it said that France will try to uncover through Berri Syria's true position regarding the situation in Lebanon "because Lebanese developments may lead to change in French diplomatic ties with Damascus."

Berri is scheduled to hold talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Prime Minister Francois Fillon, and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner during his trip that lasts until Otober 28.


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