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A modest diplomatic breakthrough seems near in Lebanon, as the allies of Saudi Arabia and Iran appear to have tentatively agreed on a new president after an 18-month deadlock.Under a political deal blessed by the United States, the vacant Lebanese presidency would be filled by Suleiman Franjieh, a Maronite Christian politician who has long been friendly with the Iranian-supported regime in Syria. Raymond Araygi, a Lebanese Cabinet minister who heads Franjieh's party, confirmed the tentative agreement in a telephone interview from Beirut Tuesday. He said it had the support of all key nations involved in Lebanon, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, the U.S. and France, as well as the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia that is the strongest political force in the country.Araygi said Franjieh and Hezbollah were both awaiting a formal announcement by Hariri of the political pact before making public statements.The U.S. official stated that an earlier meeting had taken place between Franjieh and the then-U.S. Ambassador David Hale.
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