President Michel Sleiman heads a National Dialogue session in Baabda, Monday, May 5, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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Lebanese leaders attending the last National Dialogue session of President Michel Sleiman's term emphasized Monday the need for further national defense strategy talks and praised the president's centrist position throughout his term.The session, which lasted for over an hour, was boycotted by most March 8 leaders and some March 14 figures. The National Dialogue sessions were first launched by Speaker Nabih Berri in March 2006 in a bid to bridge mounting differences between the March 8 and March 14 coalitions in the wake of the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.With his election in May 2008, Sleiman began to chair the sessions, which numbered 18 during his term. During a Dialogue session in September 2012, Sleiman proposed a national defense strategy that would see Hezbollah place its arms under the Lebanese Army.Sources close to Sleiman said the president felt the time was not suitable to address the national defense strategy in depth Monday.Besides Berri, in attendance were Prime Minister Tammam Salam, MP Hagop Pakradounian, MP Jean Ogassapian, Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt, MP Michel Murr, former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, former Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Kataeb Party leader Amine Gemayel and MP Michel Pharon.
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