Syria urges all Lebanon parties to join new govt

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem gave his backing to efforts by Lebanon`s prime minister-designate Najib Mikati to form a government and urged all Lebanese parties to participate.

Last Updated: Jan 27, 2011, 23:08 PM IST

Damascus: Syrian Foreign Minister Walid
Muallem gave his backing on Thursday to efforts by Lebanon`s prime
minister-designate Najib Mikati to form a government and urged
all Lebanese parties to participate.

"We call on all parties to join the Mikati cabinet,
and Syria is ready to cooperate with this government," Muallem
told a joint news conference with his British counterpart
William Hague.

Hague earlier in the day expressed his "concerns"
about the situation on Lebanon to President Bashar al-Assad.

Mikati today began talks on forming a new government,
meeting political leaders including his rival Saad Hariri
whose government was toppled by Hezbollah and its allies on
January 12 in a dispute over a UN-backed Special Tribunal for
Lebanon probing the murder in 2005 of Rafiq Hariri, his
father.

Hezbollah expects party members to be indicted by the
investigation, which the Shiite Muslim group sees as a
Israeli-US conspiracy, and is calling for Beirut to abandon
all cooperation with the tribunal.

Hague today called for a Lebanon government "that
upholds its international obligations, including the Special
Tribunal, and an end to impunity for assassinations."

He also called for "Syria and all nations in the
region to assist with the implementation of all UN resolutions
pertaining to Lebanon."

After 30 years of hegemony, Hezbollah`s backer Syria
withdrew its troops from Lebanon following the assassination,
which Saad Hariri believed was the work of Damascus.

But Hariri, whose relations with Syria improved in
2009, later said he had made a "mistake" in accusing Damascus
of involvement in the killing.

"We respect the sovereignty and independence of
Lebanon and we want to build bilateral relations based on
mutual respect," Muallem said today.

"What has happened in Lebanon is in line with the
constitution. We respect the choice of the representatives of
the Lebanese people, and we hope the prime minister-designate
can form a government of national unity," he added.

"We urge the international community to follow Syria
in not prejudging the actions of the next government or
imposing any conditions."

Saudi-Syrian attempts to mediate in Lebanon`s
political impasse failed last week.

"The UK looks for a government formed in accordance
with Lebanon`s constitution, that commands the broadest
possible support from the people of Lebanon," Hague said.

PTI