BEIRUT

Lebanon News

National Dialogue session set for March 31

President Michel Sleiman heads the National Dialogue meeting in Baabda, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman Friday called for a National Dialogue session at the end of the month for the resumption of talks on the national defense strategy aimed at resolving the controversy over Hezbollah’s arsenal.

“The Lebanese presidency invited members of the National Dialogue committee to convene a session on Monday, March 31, at 11 a.m., to continue discussion on the national defense strategy,” a statement from Baabda Palace said.

The last Dialogue session was held in September 2012, during which Sleiman proposed a national defense strategy that would allow Hezbollah to keep its weapons but under the command of the Lebanese Army, which would enjoy a monopoly on the use of force.

Hezbollah’s arsenal would be used by the state until the Army is able to take over all defense responsibilities.

The majority of political parties, barring the Lebanese Forces, attended the last Dialogue sessions. The LF, which recently voiced willingness for “serious dialogue” with Hezbollah, argued that the sessions were futile so long as Hezbollah is unwilling to hand over the party’s weapons to the state.

Sleiman said he sent the invitations after the formation of an all-embracing, national interest Cabinet and deliberations in Parliament that culminated with a vote of confidence in the new Cabinet.

He also said that the Dialogue session would convene in light of “critical developments and the magnitude of its repercussion on Lebanon which is tied to the decisive events on the regional and international levels.”

“I am pleased to invite you to attend the National Dialogue session on the basis that dialogue is the only means to agree on how to cope with the risks facing Lebanon, namely the Israeli enemy, terrorism, and the proliferation of arms in the hands of citizens and residents,” the invite read.

 

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