Lebanon key issue on visit of Qatari prime minister to Berlin

Other News Materials 22 April 2008 19:16 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Resolving the conflict over the election of a Lebanese president was high on the agenda when Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jasim bin Jabir al-Thani met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin Tuesday.

"We need a presidential election in Lebanon, and I believe the election of a president should not be misused to reverse majority relations in the region," Merkel said.

Referring to an Arab initiative launched by major Arab states, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia and supported by Qatar, Hamad al- Thani said the initiative provided for the election of a president, the formation of a government of national unity and review of the electoral law.

There was debate on how to proceed, he said speaking through an interpreter, but the key requirement was that "the Lebanese must sit down at one table."

Referring to reports that Qatar was playing a key mediating role in the wider Middle East conflict, the Qatari prime minister said: "We are not mediators between Israel and Syria at the moment, but that does not prevent us sharing opinions with both countries.

"We are convinced that both must sit down at one table to find a peaceful solution."

The two leaders also discussed the conflict between Iran and the international community over Tehran's nuclear programme.

Merkel expressed concern at the lack of progress following a series of UN Security Council resolutions.

Hamad al-Thani said history had shown that sanctions on their own were "counterproductive."

"We believe that we need direct dialogue: If there is a problem between the UN and Iran then they must talk. If it is between the US and Iran then they must talk about it to come to a peaceful solution," he said.

Qatar's core aim was to resolve difficulties by peaceful means.

Merkel and Haman al-Thani also discussed economic ties, sketching out the possibility of Germany taking liquefied natural gas from Qatar in the future.