Rival Leaders Consider Suleiman's Defense Strategy Blueprint Starting Point for Dialogueإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
A new round of all-party talks was set for Nov. 12 after Lebanon's rival political leaders vowed on Thursday to study a blueprint proposed by President Michel Suleiman and considered dialogue as a platform for discussions pending an agreement on the national defense strategy.
A statement issued following the national dialogue session held under Suleiman at Baabda Palace said: “The conferees agreed that Suleiman's vision is a starting point for discussions in their attempt to reach a consensus on the defense strategy, including the issue of arms.”
The leaders also said an anti-Islam U.S. film is aimed at igniting strife and supported the government in its call for issuing international regulations that criminalize the mocking of religions.
"Innocence of Muslims" has led to protests across the Muslim world. Demonstrators have vented their fury at the movie, targeting symbols of U.S. influence ranging from embassies and schools to fast-food chains. More than 30 people have been killed.
Following the talks, Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblat said: “Despite the differences in viewpoints we agreed on stressing Lebanon's neutrality towards the Syrian crisis.”
The leaders also agreed on resolving the phenomenon of kidnap-for-ransom and keeping the army, which has played an essential role in the incidents in the northern city of Tripoli, at a distance from the political wrangling, he told reporters.
Jumblat also described Suleiman's blueprint on the defense strategy as “very important but not final.”
“Problems can only be resolved through slow dialogue,” he stressed.
Suleiman held behind closed-door talks with al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc leader Fouad Saniora following the national dialogue session.
Saniora had told An Nahar daily that he would hear Suleiman's proposal on the defense strategy but stressed “our stance from (Hizbullah's) arms is clear.”
A member of his bloc, MP Jean Oghassabian, told reporters following the all-party talks that al-Mustaqbal's principles could be summarized in seeking to put the weapons under the control of the state.
“This issue should be dealt calmly and slowly because nothing works in Lebanon without consensus,” he said.
The last session on August 16 was postponed over the absence of several members, mainly, Speaker Nabih Berri.
But Thursday's all-party talks were held despite the absence of MPs Suleiman Franjieh and Talal Arslan.
Ex-Prime Minister Saad Hariri is already not attending since the national dialogue was launched after a 19-month absence in June for being abroad, while Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea has announced his boycott of the talks for allegedly being useless.