Berri Reportedly Says Aoun Reconciliation 'Does Not Involve Bassil'


Speaker Nabih Berri has said that his latest reconciliation with President Michel Aoun does not involve Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil, Ain el-Tineh sources told ad-Diyar newspaper in remarks published Sunday.

Al-Hayat daily meanwhile quoted Berri's visitors as saying that he is still clinging to his stance on all the disputed issues, "especially those related to abuse of power."

Berri also noted that Bassil's leaked remarks against him have "political motives."

"Had there not been political motives behind Bassil's insult, things would not have reached such an extent and President Aoun would have communicated with me from the very first day," Berri told his visitors.

The president "would not have waited for the escalation of tensions on the streets or for Hizbullah to inform him that it could no longer tolerate what was happening," Berri added.

The Speaker's remarks come three days after he received a reconciliatory phone call from Aoun.

In the phone conversation, the two leaders agreed to put an end to the war of words between their two parties and to hold a meeting on Tuesday. A reconciliation meeting was also held Friday in the town of Hadath, the scene of a major confrontation during unrest sparked by Bassil's remarks.

The unrest was trigerred by a leaked video showing Bassil calling Berri a "thug" and vowing to "break his head" during a closed meeting in Batroun.

The footage drew the ire of Berri's aides and political allies, who lashed out at Bassil, with Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil calling the foreign minister "lowly" and a "political dwarf."

Aoun and Berri were already at loggerheads over a disputed decree granting one-year's seniority to a number of army officers.

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