BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman discussed the country’s disassociation policy on Syria with a senior Hezbollah official Friday and said his recent stances on the issue did not represent a campaign against the party.
The president discussed with Nabatieh MP Mohammad Raad, the head of Hezbollah’s Loyalty to the Resistance bloc, “local and regional developments and the measures that should be taken to preserve security and stability in Lebanon,” a statement by the president’s office said.
A source close to the president said Raad’s visit to Sleiman at his summer residence in Beiteddine was part of the periodic meetings between Sleiman and the Hezbollah official.
“President Sleiman stressed during the meeting that his recent stances did not target Hezbollah or any other Lebanese party,” the source said.
In several speeches this month, Sleiman slammed Hezbollah’s intervention in fighting alongside the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad and said the resistance’s arms should be controlled by the state.
“The resistance cannot have a monopoly on intervention in internal and external affairs,” Sleiman said.
“The president said these stances reflected his eagerness to preserve Lebanon’s security and stability and not to have the Syrian crisis spill over into Lebanon,” the source explained.
During the meeting, Sleiman highlighted to Raad the importance that all political parties adhere to the Baabda Declaration of 2012, when rival Lebanese leaders agreed, during a National Dialogue session at Baabda Palace, to distance the country from regional conflicts, particularly the civil war in neighboring Syria.
The source said Sleiman explained to Raad he supported the formation of a government that would include ministers from various Lebanese parties.
Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam has so far failed to form a Cabinet due to irreconcilable terms placed by the March 8 and March 14 coalitions.
March 14 parties call for forming a neutral government to address national socio-economic woes, while Hezbollah and its March 8 allies insist on a government with political representation.
According to the source, Sleiman believes that given the current regional turmoil, Lebanon is now in need of a “safety net” to help it weather the regional storm.
“This is by forming an all-embracing government in which Hezbollah is represented and by resuming National Dialogue,” the source said.
Meanwhile, Speaker Nabih Berri said in remarks published Friday that no Cabinet would be formed without Hezbollah’s participation. “Vetoes do not exist in Lebanon, no party can veto the other,” he added.
The speaker also accused the March 14 coalition of obstructing the Cabinet’s formation, which he said should take place as soon as possible due to recent regional developments.
“The opposing side is responsible for obstructing this formation ... the new government should be formed today and not tomorrow ... it should have been formed three months ago.”