Turkey, Qatar foreign ministers halt Lebanon mediation

AFP , Thursday 20 Jan 2011

Turkey and Qatar decided to put a hold on mediation in Lebanon's political crisis, as both ministers say they need to consult their leadership

(Photo: AP/SANA)

The foreign ministers of Turkey and Qatar said on Thursday they were suspending efforts to mediate in Lebanon's political crisis after two days of intensive talks with the country's rival parties.

Our "efforts resulted in a working draft that takes into account political and legal demands to resolve the current crisis in Lebanon based on the Syrian-Saudi initiative," a statement said.

"But given certain reservations, they decided to suspend their efforts in Lebanon for the time being and to leave Beirut in order to consult with their leadership," added the statement, issued in the name of Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jaber al-Thani.

The Syrian-Saudi initiative reportedly calls for Lebanon to disavow a UN tribunal probing the 2005 assassination of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri against guarantees from the Shiite Hezbollah concerning its weapons arsenal.

According to political sources, the working draft drawn up by the two foreign ministers had been submitted overnight to the powerful militant group Hezbollah for approval.

Lebanon is mired in a deep crisis over a dispute between the US-backed Prime Minister Saad Hariri -- son of the slain ex-premier -- and the Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hezbollah over the UN probe.

On Monday, the prosecutor of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) submitted a sealed indictment in the case, which is now being reviewed by a judge.

Hezbollah has said it expects party members to be implicated by the STL, which it accuses of being part of a US-Israeli plot.

The Shiite party, the most powerful military force in Lebanon, forced the collapse of Hariri's government last week because of the dispute.

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