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Siniora, Hariri hold meeting in Jeddah

Former Prime Ministers, Saad Hariri, left, and Fouad Siniora speak during a press conference accompanied by the bloc parliamentary in Baabda, Lebanon, Monday, Jan. 24, 2011. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri met with Future bloc leader Fouad Siniora during the latter’s visit to Jeddah, a parliamentary source told The Daily Star.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Hariri and Siniora met to discuss the developments since the assassination of Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan.

“Some issues cannot be resolved over the phone ... that is why the two leaders had to meet in person and consult on how to address the crisis triggered by Hasan’s killing,” the source said.

The source also said Siniora held several meetings during the week with senior March 14 figures to coordinate a “unified stance” for the coalition, notably Kataeb Party leader Amin Gemayel and Lebanese Forces Leader Samir Geagea.

According to the source, Hariri gave his support to the stances taken by Siniora, backing calls for Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government to resign.

“The Future Movement believes there is a security vacuum in light of the presence of the current Cabinet, and that is the message Siniora is trying to convey to the international and Arab community,” the source said.

Siniora and Future MP Nouhad al-Mashnouq, as well as Future Movement officials Nader Hariri, Ghattas Khoury and Mohammad Chatah headed to Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah Wednesday evening.

“The aim of the Jeddah visit is to keep up a series of meeting Siniora has been holding with foreign and Arab ambassadors to explain his group’s stance over the Cabinet’s resignation,” the source said.

Siniora also met with United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly before taking off to Jeddah.

Plumbly did not make any statements following the meeting.

However, the source said that the outcome of Siniora’s meetings has been “positive” so far.

Speaking from Jeddah Thursday, Siniora said it was not inevitable that a political vacuum result from the resignation of the government.

The former minister argued that if the government resigns, it will become a caretaker Cabinet, and thus a political vacuum would be avoided.

“What is being said about not toppling the government before finding an alternative is wrong,” Siniora said following a meeting with Arab and Western envoys in Jeddah.

He also said his group is ready to cooperate with President Michel Sleiman to hold consultations in order to form a new Cabinet, which would alleviate the tension in the country, heightened following last week’s assassination of Hasan.

Following his funeral Friday the opposition took to the streets to protest over the slain general’s killing and ask for the resignation of Mikati’s Cabinet.

The opposition also decided to boycott the national dialogue and any parliamentary activity in which the government takes part, until Mikati’s Cabinet resigns.

 

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