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New Lebanese premier assures West he wants no confrontation

Arab World Materials 26 January 2011 04:26
Lebanon's newly appointment Hezbollah-backed premier Najib Mikati sought Tuesday to reassure the west that he will not be in confrontation with western governments, dpa reported.
New Lebanese premier assures West he wants no confrontation

Lebanon's newly appointment Hezbollah-backed premier Najib Mikati sought Tuesday to reassure the west that he will not be in confrontation with western governments, dpa reported.

"We will maintain ties with everyone and we are not about to confront anyone," Mikati told the Lebanese television LBC.

"Lebanon needs the support of all friendly states, but we also need stability to build this country," he added.

Mikati's comment came hours after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said a Hezbollah-controlled government in Lebanon would "clearly have an impact" on ties with the United States.

Clinton said Washington was following "closely and carefully" developments in Beirut, as she appeared at a press conference with Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez. Spain contributes troops to the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon.

"We are watching the situation closely and carefully in Lebanon. We are monitoring new developments," Clinton said when asked how US- Lebanese ties would be affected by upcoming political change.

"A Hezbollah-controlled government would clearly have an impact on our bilateral relationship," Clinton told reporters.

Hezbollah and their allies withdrew from Hariri's government earlier this month over major differences regarding the UN Tribunal probing the 2005 assassination of his father, the late former premier Rafik Hariri.

Earlier Tuesday, President Michel Suleiman appointed Mikati to form the new government.

Mikati received the backing of 68 of parliament's 128 members of parliament, including 57 votes from Hezbollah and their allies, while the remaining 60 MPs backed Hariri for another term.

Prime Minister Mikati said he would begin two days of consultations with parliamentary groups on forming a new government on Thursday and hoped that Hariri's coalition would back his efforts.

"I can't severe the relation with Hariri and after he calms down he'll know that I'm one of the closest people to him," Mikati said. "My actions will speak for themselves."

He stressed that his new government would seek to implement institutional reforms and to address the social and economic problems of the Lebanese people.

Referring to the thorny issue of the UN-backed tribunal, Mikati said, "The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) is a reality and cannot be abolished."

"Matters of disputes regarding the tribunal can only be resolved through dialogue," the new premier said.

Mikati's appointment has triggered protests by Hariri's followers who accused the new premier of carrying out a coup with the backing of Hezbollah to sideline Hariri, the most popular leader among the Muslim-Sunni sect in Lebanese politics.

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