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Talk to Syria before ISIS: Lebanon's FPM

Labor Minister Salim Jreissati arrives to attend a Cabinet session at the Grand Serail in Beirut, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: The Lebanese government should reach out to countries sponsoring ISIS and the Nusra Front to secure the release of the captive soldiers, the Change and Reform Bloc urged Tuesday, arguing that it was preferable to seek help from Syria than negotiate directly with radical groups.

“Some people criticized MP Michel Aoun for urging the government not to negotiate with terrorists but his remarks backed Prime Minister Tammam Salam who rejected the principle of negotiation to free the soldiers,” former Labor Minister Salim Jreissati told reporters after the end of the bloc’s weekly meeting.

“We should communicate instead with countries that are sponsors of these terrorist organizations and with the Syrian government if needed,” he said.

“Our priority is to free the captured soldiers and help return them to their families and the Army, but we should also preserve national dignity.”

The bloc also dismissed the March 14 coalition’s recent initiative to break the presidential deadlock, lobbying once again for MP Michel Aoun’s own proposal to end the paralysis.

"The initiative that was proposed today is old, repetitive and useless ... Michel Aoun has proposed his own salvation initiative and we want answers to that,” Jreissati said.

“Any initiative unrelated to the one objective, national and technical one that [former] General Michel Aoun proposed is a waste time.”

Earlier in the day, the March 14 coalition said it was ready to hold talks with rival parties to agree on a consensus candidate in what the group described as the “national compromise” initiative to elect a new president as soon as possible.

Aoun, the head of the Change and Reform bloc, has proposed an amendment to the presidential election mechanism in which the president would be elected by popular vote not Parliament.

But his rivals rejected the proposal, saying that the amendment would potentially change Lebanon’s political system.

 

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Summary

The Lebanese government should reach out to countries sponsoring ISIS and the Nusra Front to secure the release of the captive soldiers, the Change and Reform Bloc urged Tuesday, arguing that it was preferable to seek help from Syria than negotiate directly with radical groups.

The bloc also dismissed the March 14 coalition's recent initiative to break the presidential deadlock, lobbying once again for MP Michel Aoun's own proposal to end the paralysis.

Earlier in the day, the March 14 coalition said it was ready to hold talks with rival parties to agree on a consensus candidate in what the group described as the "national compromise" initiative to elect a new president as soon as possible.


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