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George Bush blocks Lebanon deal


The US is blocking a compromise between the Lebanese government and opposition over the election of a new president for Lebanon.

Condeleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, said last weekend that any new president must move against the resistance and Palestinian groups in the country and convene a tribunal into the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri.

The tribunal is widely seen as an attempt to isolate the Syrian government, which is blamed for Hariri’s killing.

The opposition has been locked in stalemate with the government over a new president ever since it abandoned its general strike in January of this year.

By calling off the strike, the opposition hoped that the government would compromise.

But under intense US and European pressure, the ruling coalition refused. There followed months of tension and assassinations of government supporters.

At the heart of the standoff are two strategies over the future. The ruling coalition hopes that by aligning Lebanon with the US it can continue to receive financial backing.

The opposition fears that letting the US dominate Lebanon will force the government to attack the resistance and spark civil war.

The warning from Rice follows a meeting last month in which George Bush made it clear that the US would oppose any compromise deal with the opposition.

Bush said that if the government was to agree on a “neutral” presidential candidate the US would withdraw its backing.

The latest US threats come as the Israeli army has staged military exercises close to its border with Lebanon.

Last weekend the resistance movement Hizbollah stunned the Lebanese army and international troops by staging military exercises of its own in southern Lebanon


Article information

International
Tue 6 Nov 2007, 18:49 GMT
Issue No. 2076
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