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Arab League Chief Calls Lebanon Crisis 'Serious'

Amr Mussa (file photo) (epa) December 3, 2006 -- Arab League Secretary-General Amr Mussa described Lebanon's political crisis as "serious" upon his arrival in Beirut today for talks with the deadlocked parties.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora earlier said the government was not under siege following a prayer service for Christian ministers at the government building, which has been surrounded by thousands of protesters for a third consecutive day.

"We are not under siege," he said. "The sit-in is fine. They are sitting there, it is their right of expression. We respect them, and this is their right. Yet at the same time there are plenty other Lebanese, much more than this, who have different opinions. We have to do our best in order to reconcile everyone."

Siniora's government, backed by Western powers and several Arab states, has pledged not to give in to demands by the Shi'ite Hizballah and its pro-Syrian allies to resign.

The opposition is demanding a greater share in the government that would give it power to veto legislation. The anti-Syrian camp says the opposition demands are a plot to avoid the formation of an international tribunal to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

(AFP, dpa, Reuters)

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri

Lebanese demonstrating in Beirut on the first anniversary of Hariri's slaying in February (epa)

POINTING AT SYRIA. The February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri shook the fragile political situation in Lebanon and threatened the entire region. The international community have been increasingly vocal in accusing Syria of involvement in the killing and in demanding that Damascus cooperate with a UN investigation....(more)


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