No breakthrough for Arab League chief in second Lebanon mission

Other News Materials 8 February 2008 22:21 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Arab League chief Amr Mussa held more than four hours of talks with feuding Lebanese politicians on Friday but failed to achieve a breakthrough to solve the country's political crisis.

"There are some points on which there is an agreement but there are other points that need further discussion," Mussa said after talks with Western-backed ruling majority leader Saad Hariri and the Christian opposition's General Michel Aoun.

"Another meeting is needed," he said after the talks at the parliament in downtown Beirut.

According to sources close to the opposition the meeting was a step in the right direction, "but a major breakthrough is still far."

Lebanon has been without a head of state since November 23, when pro-Syrian Emile Lahoud stepped down at the end of his term.

Since September, 13 sessions of parliament to elect a successor have been cancelled, after rival factions failed to reach an agreement on a consensus president.

A new parliament session is scheduled for Monday, but Mussa refused to say whether or not it would take place.

Lebanon for the past year has been going through a deep political crisis which is threatening the country's stability.

Mussa has been trying negotiate a three-point plan with Lebanon's rival factions calling for the election of army chief General Michel Suleiman, the formation of a national unity government in which no single party has a veto power and the adoption of a new electoral law.

Musa said after the meeting he would leave for Cairo later Friday, but subsequently sources close to the Shiite House Speaker Nabih Berri said "Musa will stay for one more day," without specifying the reason.

The ruling majority has accepted the Arab plan, but the opposition demands a third of the seats in the new government to secure a veto power.

"The army chief is still the candidate of consensus and those present at today's meeting agree on that," said Mussa, who arrived Thursday.

A source close to the head of the majority told Deutsche Presse- Agentur dpa "that the session on Monday will not take place so far."

"Nothing will be tangible before March," he said.