Report: Mustaqbal-FPM Talks to Cover Issues Other than Presidential Polls

Mustaqbal Movement leader MP Saad Hariri is keen on continuing talks with Free Patriotic Movement officials, in light of his recent meeting with Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, reported al-Joumhouria newspaper on Thursday.

It said that the former premier is eager to develop ties between the two sides and that the talks should cover other issues besides the presidential elections.

The two officials held talks in Paris on Tuesday on the eve of the second round of the polls.

Hariri had informed Bassil that he “cannot support the candidacy of FPM chief MP Michel Aoun, adding that he did not submit a presidential program that he could agree on.”

“Aoun's political stances over the past few years contradict those of the Mustaqbal Movement,” he stated.

Moreover, Hariri told Bassil that he will not agree to Aoun's nomination if his Christian allies in the March 14 camp do not consent to it, reported al-Joumhouria.

As Safir newspaper meanwhile denied that the talks between the Mustaqbal chief and foreign minister were “pessimistic”, saying that the meeting was productive and contacts between them will continue.

Prominent FPM sources told the daily: “The meeting with Bassil would not have taken place had Hariri not been receptive to the possibility of Aoun's nomination.”

They stressed however that talk with Hariri will not be open-ended, saying that the room for talks will end with the constitutional deadline to elect a president on May 25.

Hariri and Bassil agreed on the importance of holding the presidential elections on time to avoid vacuum, media reports said on Wednesday.

The minister described the meeting as positive, saying: “We reject vacuum and we want the election of a president.”

Lawmakers once again failed on Wednesday to elect a new president as differences between the March 8 and 14 alliances led to a lack of quorum in the second parliamentary session aimed at choosing a new head of state.

While the March 14 camp held onto its candidate Lebanese Forces leader Geagea, the Hizbullah-led March 8 alliance, including the FPM, boycotted the second round of the elections over lack of consensus on one candidate.

Speaker Nabih Berri's Development and Liberation bloc of the March 8 camp attended the session.

Berri set May 7 for a third round of voting.



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