Beirut: France is calling for the
creation of an international "contact group" on Lebanon to
negotiate a settlement to the country's latest political
crisis, a European diplomat said on Friday.
"The contact group would include Syria, Saudi Arabia,
France, the United States, Qatar, Turkey and possibly other
countries with a stake in Lebanon," the diplomat, who spoke on
condition of anonymity, said.
"The group would meet outside of Lebanon given the
current tensions in the country," the diplomat added.
The contact group would be similar to the one set up
in the 1990s to oversee Balkan peace-building after the former
communist Yugoslavia splintered in a series of wars in the
The idea was discussed in Paris yesterday between
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Lebanese premier Saad
Hariri, whose government collapsed on Wednesday after the
powerful Hezbollah and its allies pulled their ministers from
The move was linked to a long-running dispute over the
UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is reportedly
set to indict senior Hezbollah members in connection with the
2005 assassination of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri, Saad's father.
The resignations came after a Saudi-Syrian bid to
defuse tensions over the tribunal failed to find a compromise
between the two rival camps.
Hariri is now heading a caretaker government pending
the outcome of consultations between President Michel Sleiman
and parliamentarians on the appointment of a new premier. The
consultations are due to start on Monday.
First Published: Friday, January 14, 2011, 21:33