BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman stressed on Monday the need to work on strengthening national unity and stability in order to promote Lebanon’s economic and growth. Sleiman who is expected to arrive on December 12 in the United States, would hold talks with US President Barak Obama two days later during which he is expected to underline the Palestinian refugees’ right of return as well as Lebanon’s rejection to undertake any direct peace negotiations with Israel separately from Syria.
Sleiman’s stance concerning Lebanon’s refusal to unilaterally undertake peace negotiations has been coordinated with Syrian President Bashar Assad during the Lebanese president last visit to Syria earlier this month, the Central News Agency reported on Monday.
Sleiman is also expected to tackle an increase in US military aid to Lebanon.
Prior to Sleiman’s visit, the Cabinet is scheduled to convene on Wednesday to approve the government’s policy statement as March 14 Christian parties would express their reservations on article six of the document.
The Lebanese Forces and the Phalange Party along with Labor Minister Butors Harb rejected article six of the statement – a clause which grants the resistance the right to liberate occupied territories – saying it allotted the resistance a separate and independent status from the Lebanese state and its people, a reference to Hizbullah.
In a statement issued on Monday, the Phalange Party stressed its rejection to equalize between the arms of the Lebanese Army and that of Hizbullah as well as the sharing of sovereignty over Lebanese territories which contradicts Lebanon’s best interests and its commitment to international resolutions.
“The Phalange Party calls for the preservation of the principles of the Cedar Revolution principles and its goals which represented the beliefs of a sweeping majority of the Lebanese,” the statement said following the party’s politburo meeting headed by Amin Gemayel.
The statement also called for the re-establishment of balance between constitutional powers particularly amending the prerogatives allotted to the presidency in order to allow the president to assume his role in preserving the Constitution and independence.
“The Phalange’s stances in the Cabinet would take into consideration in the first place the party’s principles before anything else,” the statement added.
Similarly, Labor Minister Butros Harb said on Monday that he and March 14 Christian parties would express their reservations over the ministerial statement but would not obstruct the Cabinet’s work in light of the positive atmosphere of cooperation.
Meanwhile, the meeting of Christian ministers on Monday did not result in a united stance regarding the statement as the attendants ended the gathering by expressing their support to Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s efforts to head a Cabinet with a minimum level of unity among its members.
“The meeting’s purpose was not to come up with a united stance but to highlight our unity in form and substance as we leave our final stance to the Cabinet session,” Minister of State Michel Pharaon told reporters at his residence, adding that “different stances existed within the March 14 alliance.”
Pharaon added that some positive additions were incorporated in the statement such as granting the state monopoly over the country’s general policy.
Information Minister Tarek Mitri, who participated in the meeting, said the ministerial statement reflected the disagreement between different political parties over article six since it stressed on one hand Lebanon’s right to resist by means of its army, people and resistance and on the other hand highlighted the state’s unity and monopoly.
Mitri added that he attended the meeting to exchange ideas and discuss the different stances on the issue.
US embassy denies feltman lebanon visit
BEIRUT: The United States Embassy in Lebanon denied on Monday media reports about a possible visit this week by US Foreign Assistant for Middle Eastern Affairs Jeffery Feltman to Lebanon as well as other reports about the appointment of a new US ambassador to Beirut to replace Michele Sison.
The Central News Agency had reported on Monday that Feltman would pay a visit to Beirut by the end of the week during which he would hold discussions with top Lebanese officials and leaders of the March 14 coalition to discuss the US administration outlook on the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict ahead of US president’s special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell’s visit to the region. – The Daily Star