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Mansour for joining Geneva II, dismisses March 14 criticism

Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour speaks during an interview in Beirut, Monday, Aug. 12, 2013. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: Caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour insisted Friday that he is entitled to represent Lebanon in the Geneva II peace conference on Syria, dismissing criticism from the March 14 coalition.

“March 14’s objection to my [possible] representation of Lebanon in the Geneva II conference is based on political grounds, they have the right to object in theory but not legally,” Mansour told LBCI.

“The foreign minister will take part in the Geneva II conference, it is his right,” he added.

The bulk of criticism came from the March 14 coalition where Future MP Ahmad Fatfat told pan-Arab Asharq Al-Awsat daily earlier during the day that his group rejects Mansour’s participation in Geneva II because he lacks neutrality over the Syrian crisis.

“Our stance is clear in terms of rejecting the participation of Mansour who has proven that he is taking sides in the Syrian crisis and had not committed to Lebanon’s official disassociation policy, insisting instead on the policy of supporting the Syrian regime,” Fatfat said.

In March, Mansour came under fire from Lebanese officials after he called on Arab foreign ministers gathered in the Egyptian capital to return the Arab League seat to the Syrian government.

Mansour rejects the March 14’s allegations and told LBCI that “the foreign minister represents Lebanon and the policy of the Lebanese state set by the Cabinet.”

“I never acted otherwise,” he said.

The Geneva II conference is set to convene on Nov. 23, though the U.S., Russia and the United Nations have all said no date has been officially set.

The Lebanese government has adopted a self-declared disassociation policy from the Syrian crisis, but the country remains sharply divided over the conflict in the neighboring country.

 

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