President Michel Sleiman, right, chairs the National Dialogue session in Baabda, Sunday, March 30, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)
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President Michel Sleiman chaired a National Dialogue session Monday but the meeting lacked substantial discussion given the absence of major March 8 parties, including Hezbollah.A statement issued after the two-hour session said that attendees highlighted the need for a national defense strategy to defend Lebanon. The statement said that participants highlighted the need to discuss Sleiman's national defense strategy proposal and stressed the importance of Dialogue, calling on all parties to participate in the upcoming session, which Sleiman called for May 5 .Taking part in the Dialogue session were Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Tammam Salam, former Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Future parliamentary bloc head MP Fouad Siniora, Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt, Free Patriotic Movement head Michel Aoun, Kataeb Party leader Amine Gemayel, Future bloc MP Jean Ogassapian, Metn MP Hagop Pakradounian, Tripoli MP Mohammad Safadi, Tourism Minister Michel Pharaon, MP Michel Murr and Deputy Speaker Farid Makari.March 8 sources said that hopes expressed by Dialogue attendees that all party representatives would attend the upcoming session were unfounded, given Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah's statement over the weekend that the party wanted a new president to be elected as soon as possible to launch a new phase of National Dialogue.
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