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Kataeb leader voices support for National Dialogue

Kataeb leader Amine Gemayel speaks during the seventh anniversary of the assassination of Rafik Hariri in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: Kataeb leader Amin Gemayel voiced in remarks published Thursday support for National Dialogue and said he would attend the next session which is scheduled for Jan. 7 if it takes place.

“Our stance is clear. We will attend the upcoming [National] Dialogue session,” said Gemayel, who spoke to As-Safir newspaper.

“But if major political groups decide not to attend the session, we will leave it to the president [Michel Sleiman] to take the appropriate decision [on whether to go ahead with the session or postpone it],” Gemayel added.

A dialogue session is scheduled for Jan. 7 but has little chance of being held after the March 14 coalition conditioned its participation in the all-party talks to the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s Cabinet.

The opposition stance was triggered by the assassination of a top security official in a car blast in Beirut in October.

Following the killing of Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan, the March 14 coalition decided to boycott the government and its work at the legislative branch and called for the formation of a neutral salvation Cabinet to oversee the 2013 parliamentary elections.

Future MP Nouhad Mashnouq told MTV Wednesday his group’s stance had not changed and that the opposition would not attend the upcoming Dialogue session before Mikati steps down.

The president has repeatedly called for a resumption to National Dialogue, which was reactivated for a short period in the middle of the year to address the thorny issue of Hezbollah’s weapons within a National Defense Strategy.

After attending a Christmas mass in Bkirki Tuesday, Sleiman urged reiterated his call on all sides to participate in the Jan. 7 session.

In his interview with As-Safir, Gemayel said the decision by the Kataeb, a member of the March 14 alliance, to attend Dialogue in the event it takes place was out of respect for Sleiman and the post of president.

“We cannot refuse any initiative by the president and thus we cannot turn down his invitation to attend the Dialogue table,” Gemayel, a former president, said.

 

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