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Lebanon PM wraps up talks on govt

Lebanon`s Hezbollah-backed premier designate Najib Mikati wrapped up consultations on forming a new government set to be boycotted by his Sunni rival Saad Hariri.

Beirut: Lebanon`s Hezbollah-backed
premier designate Najib Mikati on Friday wrapped up consultations
on forming a new government set to be boycotted by his Sunni
rival Saad Hariri.

Mikati told reporters after two days of talks with
parliamentary blocs that he would report back to President
Michel Sleiman on Saturday before getting down to the business
of choosing his ministers.

An official close to Mikati said the billionaire
businessman would likely form a government of technocrats and
politicians, given the refusal of Hariri`s Western-backed
coalition to take part in the government.

"It is now clear that Hariri`s coalition does not want
to join the government," said the official who requested

Mikati was appointed earlier this week after the
Shiite Hezbollah toppled Hariri`s cabinet because of a dispute
over a UN-backed probe into the 2005 murder of ex-premier
Rafiq Hariri, Saad`s father.

The militant party, which is backed by Syria and Iran
and is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Washington,
had brought down Hariri`s unity government over his refusal to
cut all ties with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

Hariri`s coalition has flatly rejected being part of a
cabinet headed by a man they say was picked by Hezbollah and
has sought a commitment from Mikati that he would not disavow
the Netherland-based STL.

But Mikati today said the issue needed to be resolved
through dialogue.

"I have not and will not commit in writing to any
demands," he said.

He added that he had expected the conditions set by
Hariri`s coalition and had also received demands from
Hezbollah and its allies.

"That`s why my centrist position is important," he

The STL is expected to implicate Hezbollah members in
Rafiq Hariri`s assassination, a scenario the party has warned


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