Officials: 'No Progress' in 'Serious' Mustaqbal-FPM Talks on Presidency

Talks between al-Mustaqbal movement and the Free Patriotic Movement have not stopped, a high-ranking official said despite a claim made by al-Mustaqbal MP Assem Araji that the meetings are not leading anywhere.

The official, who is a member of ex-PM Saad Hariri's al-Mustaqbal movement, told As Safir newspaper published on Friday that contacts between the two sides “are serious and ongoing.”

They “haven't stopped,” he said, while stressing that the talks aimed at resolving the presidential deadlock would not come at the expense of Hariri's March 14 coalition allies.

The official told As Safir that Hariri informed Free Patriotic Movement officials Ministers Jebran Bassil and Elias Bou Saab during their last meeting in Paris that he would not engage in a “bone-breaking battle” with the FPM over the presidential crisis.

The FPM chief, MP Michel Aoun, has been seeking the seal of approval from the country's major parties and mainly al-Mustaqbal, which leads the March 14 camp, to run for the presidency.

He has so far refused to announce his candidacy, claiming there should be a political compromise first.

His Change and Reform bloc, in addition to the majority of the March 8 alliance's lawmakers, have boycotted several rounds of parliamentary sessions aimed at electing a new head of state.

The resulting lack of quorum left a vacuum at Baabda Palace after the expiry of Michel Suleiman's six-year term on May 25.

The talks between the FPM and al-Mustaqbal, which has backed the candidacy of Aoun's rival Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea, are aimed at resolving the matter.

But MP Araji told al-Liwaa newspaper that contacts between the two parties have made “no progress.”

He accused the FPM of “holding onto strategic issues, mainly its alliance with Hizbullah.”



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