Lebanon News

Geagea-Aoun talks make good progress

Geagea and Kanaan held talks at the former's residence in Maarab on Thursday, April 9, 2015. (The Daily Star/Aldo Ayoub, HO)

BEIRUT: Talks between the Lebanese Forces and Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement have achieved “remarkable progress,” an MP from FPM chief Michel Aoun’s bloc said Thursday, after meeting with LF leader Samir Geagea.

“I don’t want to announce the results [of the meeting], I would rather leave that to Gen. Michel Aoun and Dr. Samir Geagea,” MP Ibrahim Kanaan said after the talks, which he described as “important.”

“Certainly, we have achieved remarkable progress. The work is serious and takes into consideration the concerns of both groups.”

Kanaan said discussion focused on the content of a “declaration of intent,” which the rival political groups are jointly composing. The document is expected to announce the LF and FPM’s renewed commitment to abolishing past tensions between their parties.

Speaking to The Daily Star, a source familiar with the talks between the two Christian groups said the meeting was “very productive – things are on the right track.”

The source said that late last month, the LF received the FPM’s proposed amendments to a draft of the declaration. “The Lebanese Forces made their own amendments and will return the draft to [the FPM] in the next few days,” the source said. “Things are being finalized.”

The Future Movement and Hezbollah are also engaged in dialogue sessions, holding nine meetings since December. Despite their ongoing talks, the war of words between the rival parties over the conflict in Yemen erupted again Thursday.

MP Mohammad Raad, head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc, responded sharply to recent comments by Future Movement leader Saad Hariri. The former premier had denounced remarks made by Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah in a televised interview, saying they were “offensive” to Saudi Arabia.

“We understand the embarrassing situation that Sheikh Saad is facing and his frustration at this moment, especially concerning our criticism of the leaders of Saudi Arabia, their botched policies, and their failed aggression in Yemen,” Raad said.

“Condemning the aggression and refuting the aggressors’ crimes is not offensive. What is offensive is justifying the aggression, applauding it, [propagating] illusions about it and making misplaced bets [on its outcome],” Raad added.

His statement came a day after Hariri criticized Nasrallah for “luring” Lebanon’s official television channel into airing “offensive” remarks against Saudi Arabia, made during an interview with Syria’s Al-Ekhbariya TV. Nasrallah railed against Riyadh for its recent military intervention in Yemen. Despite his statement, Raad said his party was adamant that the dialogue with the Future Movement would continue.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 10, 2015, on page 1.




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