BEIRUT: Marada Movement leader MP Sleiman Franjieh voiced his readiness Tuesday to attend National Dialogue after a session that was supposed to be held on Jan. 7 was canceled.
“I am willing to respond to any call for Dialogue launched by President Michel Sleiman because Dialogue is the key to any solution in the country,” said Franjieh following a meeting with a delegation of the Progressive Socialist Party.
MP Walid Jumblatt’s PSP delegation visited Franjieh at his residence in Bneshaai, Zghorta, north Lebanon, to discuss an initiative launched by Jumblatt in November and aimed at finding a breakthrough in Lebanon’s political crisis.
Franjieh did not attend the latest round of Dialogue held September in Baabda Palace, claiming that he had pre-arranged engagements outside Lebanon.
Ties between Franjieh and the president have been strained following statements made by Sleiman about the case of former Lebanese Minister Michel Samaha, who was accused in August of transferring explosives from Syria to Lebanon.
In an interview with Hezbollah-affiliated al-Manar television station in November, Franjieh said that Sleiman was not acting as an unbiased leader and voiced his dissatisfaction with the president’s recent stances.
Shortly after resuming sessions in September, Dialogue in the country came to a stalemate after the opposition set Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s resignation as a precondition to attend the all-party-talks.
Their decision to boycott the Cabinet and any parliamentary activity in which it takes part was triggered by the Oct. 19 assassination of a top security official in the country, Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan who headed the police Information Branch.
The Marada leader also slammed the March 14-led opposition, accusing it of forcing its conditions on the rest of the factions.
“The other team wants to tailor solutions according to its interests, that’s why it rejects Dialogue,” said Franjieh.
Meanwhile, Public Works and Transport Minister Ghazi al-Aridi said that the visit to Franjieh is a complementary step to all the previous discussions with Lebanese officials to end the political deadlock.
“We should overcome disputes between political rivals and find common ground, which is the aim behind this initiative, in addition to resuming the dialogue among all parties,” Aridi told reporters.
According to the minister, it is still too early to talk about the final outcome of Jumblatt’s initiative because the delegation still has to meet with several political leaderships in the coming days.