Lebanon's national dialogue talks end abruptly after disagreements
Lebanon's "national dialogue" negotiations, aimed at ending what many consider the worst political crisis in the country in 16 years, ended abruptly on Tuesday.
The talks, which were to have continued until Thursday, focused on the political future of pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud, ties between Lebanon and Syria, and calls for disarmament of Hizbullah, according to Reuters. Negotiations are set to resume on March 13.
The conference is considered the largest such gathering of Muslim, Christian, pro- and anti-Syrian leaders since the end of Lebanon's civil war in 1990.
Some placed some of the blame for the failed talks on anti-Syrian Druze leader Walid Jumblatt.
Jumblatt had participated in the talks initially, but then left for Washington, where he stated on Monday that the negotiations had stalled; some had blamed the comment for "casting a shadow" over the morning session of talks.
Other participants also reportedly voiced their preference to have Jumblatt present for the negotiations.
The Druze leader has campaigned to have Lebanon's parliament oust pro-Syrian Lahoud, who he termed a "puppet," and said that if no progress was made in the negotiations, he would organize a mass rally in response.
He said the anti-Syrian leaders turned down a compromise to allow Hizbullah to retain their arms on the condition that Lahoud be replaced.
Others, however, maintained that no such compromise had been reached.
© 2006 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)