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Lebanon News

National Dialogue likely to be postponed: sources

Rival political leaders gather at the National Dialogue table at Baabda Palace, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s National Dialogue session scheduled for Nov.12 will likely to be postponed, sources at Baabda Palace told The Daily Star.

"The session is likely to be postponed until after Nov.22, the date marking the country’s independence," the Baabda sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Another source close to the March 14 sides participating in the National Dialogue said the session could be postponed until Nov. 29.

The source cited MP Fouad Siniora, who represents the Future Movement in the all-party talks, being out of the country for other engagements as the reason for the postponement.

The source said that Siniora, a senior political figure in the country and former prime minister, would be on a visit to the United States.

On Sep. 20, the fourth National Dialogue session of the recently relaunched talks was held under the auspices of President Michel Sleiman. The talks aim at resolving the thorny issue of Hezbollah’s arsenal within the framework of a national defense strategy proposed by Sleiman.

According to the March 14 source, the next session will look into the thorny issue of whether Hezbollah should retain its weapons or whether the state should take charge of them.

Marada Movement leader MP Sleiman Franjieh did not take part in the previous session due to prior engagements outside Lebanon, while the head of the Lebanese Democratic Party, MP Talal Arslan, was absent for personal reasons.

As in the previous three dialogue sessions, Future Movement leader MP Saad Hariri and Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea did not take part in the multi-party talks.

National Dialogue sessions were initially launched in March 2006 and then chaired by Sleiman after he was elected to the presidency in May 2008.

After an 18-month lull in talks, National Dialogue kicked off again in June in a bid to prevent regional turmoil, particularly the uprising against President Bashar Assad in neighboring Syria, from spilling further into Lebanon.

 

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