Leaders of Lebanon's government and the Hizbullah-led opposition met behind closed doors in Qatar on Saturday for the highest-level talks so far in the country's 18-month-long political crisis. The Doha-hosted meeting on forming a national unity government and electing a president was agreed under a deal, mediated by the Arab League, to end Lebanon's worst violence since the 1975-1990 civil war.
But the government raised the stakes on the talks Saturday, insisting they must also tackle the issue of the weapons used by Hizbullah, the AP reported. Lebanon's Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh told The Associated Press that leaders would discuss "Hizbullah's use of its weapons to achieve internal political aims" in the wake of recent violence.
According to Hamadeh, he expects "three critical days" before the sides reach any sort of compromise on the standoff.
According to AFP, Lebanese politicians postponed the issue of Hizbullah's weapons. Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr al-Thani "offered to come up with a proposal on the Hizbullah weaponry issue and present it to the two parties," a Lebanese delegate told AFP. "The two sides have agreed to that," he added following the first session.
The feuding Lebanese factions arrived in Qatar Friday, where Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani welcomed them saying he hoped the Lebanese would come to an agreement and prevent further clashes in their country. On his part, Christian pro-government politician Samir Geagea warned Hizbullah that the talks would fail if the Shiite group sticks to keeping its arsenal in defiance of state authority. "We can no longer accept Hezbollah as it is," Geagea told the Qatari-based pan Arab Al-Jazeera television.