Lebanon News

Berri seeking breakthrough on policy statement

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri delivers a speech during a dinner held by the Lebanese ambassador in his honor, in Kuwait, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014.

BEIRUT: Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri aims for a breakthrough in the three-week-old crisis over a government policy statement.

“I will hold talks with President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister Tammam Salam in order to give contacts a chance perhaps they will succeed in finding an exit for the policy statement [impasse],” Berri told the local daily An-Nahar in remarks published Thursday.

Berri said efforts would continue “even if Cabinet has to hold several sessions Saturday, Sunday and Monday.”

The 30-day deadline to draft the policy statement ends Midnight Monday, Berri said.

Salam has indicated he would consider resigning if last-minute talks fail to break the deadlock over the resistance clause in the policy statement.

The Cabinet will convene later Thursday in a bid to achieve consensus over the policy.

Political sources said that talks to achieve a breakthrough could take place prior to the session on the sidelines of a lunch hosted by President Michel Sleiman in honor of visiting Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.

The event will be attended by Salam, the sources said, and Speaker Nabih Berri could be on hand as well.

The Hezbollah-led March 8 alliance insists that the policy statement stipulate that Lebanon and the Lebanese have the right to resist Israeli occupation and defend the country against any Israeli aggression, effectively legitimizing Hezbollah’s arsenal.

While the March 14 coalition argues that resistance against Israel should take place under the authority of the state and that Lebanon rather than the Lebanese should have the right to resistance.

The sources said Salam might resign if no agreement is reached, adding that the prime minister feels as if he has been stabbed in the back by the March 8 and March 14 coalitions.





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