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THURSDAY, 24 APR 2014
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EU voices concern over Lebanon, U.N. calls for unity
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton talks to the press prior a Foreign Affairs Council on March 11, 2013 at the EU Headquarters in Brussels. AFP PHOTO GEORGES GOBET
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton talks to the press prior a Foreign Affairs Council on March 11, 2013 at the EU Headquarters in Brussels. AFP PHOTO GEORGES GOBET
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BEIRUT: The EU voiced concern Saturday over the deteriorating situation in Lebanon, particularly after the resignation of the country’s prime minister, a day after the U.N. urged Lebanese political leaders to unite behind the president.

“The [EU] High Representative expresses concern at the deteriorating situation in Lebanon, particularly after the decision of PM [Najib] Mikati to step down,” a statement from European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Saturday.

Mikati announced the resignation of his Cabinet Friday and on Saturday President Michel Sleiman requested he stay on as the country’s caretaker prime minister.

The Tripoli lawmaker made the announcement Friday after a deadlocked Cabinet session over preparations for parliamentary polls and extending the term of a senior security official.

In the EU statement, Ashton voiced regret on the political stalemate over domestic issues that led to Mikati tendering the Cabinet’s resignation.

She also expressed concerns over security incidents undermining stability and said the presence of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees placed a heavy burden on the country.

"The EU will pursue its support to the institutions, to the security forces and to the people of Lebanon to respond to the current challenges in the spirit of our long-standing partnership," her statement said.

Late Friday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on all parties in Lebanon to remain united to maintain calm and stability in the country following Mikati’s decision to step down.

“At this challenging time for the region, the secretary-general calls on all the parties in Lebanon to remain united behind the leadership of President Sleiman,” a statement issued from Ban’s office said.

Ban called on all parties to “work together with the institutions of the state to maintain calm and stability, to respect Lebanon's policy of disassociation consistent with their commitment in the Baabda Declaration, and to support the role of the Lebanese Army in sustaining national unity, sovereignty and security.”

The Baabda Declaration, which was issued during a National Dialogue meeting in June 2012, calls for keeping Lebanon neutral from regional tensions and crises.

“The secretary-general urges all concerned to engage positively with the president to agree the way forward in accordance with Lebanon's constitutional requirements and with full respect for the democratic process,” the statement added.

Mikati Saturday expressed hope that his resignation would pave the way for the resumption of National Dialogue which would lead to the formation of a “national salvation Cabinet.”

 
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