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Talks Over New Lebanese Premier Postponed

Outgoing Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri
Talks scheduled for today to name a new Lebanese prime minister have been postponed for a week.

The presidential office said President Michel Sleiman decided to postpone the parliamentary consultations until January 24-25 "after assessing the positions of various parties."

The government of Saad Hariri collapsed last week when 11 ministers from the Shi'ite militant group Hizballah and its allies resigned amid rising tensions over the UN tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of his father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Hizballah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah on January 16 said the group would not support Saad Hariri returning to his post as prime minister.

"It's clear to me that the opposition will not be naming Prime Minister Saad Hariri to form a new government. We did not name him the last time, but we agreed to form a national unity government with him,” Nasrallah said.

“But this time, based on our experience in the past 14 months and what has happened lately, we are not in the process of naming him and we are going to be naming someone else.''

Saad Hariri had rejected Hizballah's demand to stop cooperation with the UN tribunal, which is expected to indict Hizballah members, possibly reigniting hostilities between Lebanon's Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims.

compiled from agency reports