Lebanon's prime minister-designate Saad Hariri on Thursday launched talks with the various political parties in his second bid to form a unity government since a June election. According to AFP, Hariri started his consultations by meeting with parliament speaker Nabih Berri, whose Amal party is in the opposition. He was then to hold a series of talks until next Tuesday with members of the various other parties, including Hizbullah which heads the Syria and Iran-backed opposition.
Hariri abandoned his first bid to form a national unity cabinet after failing to secure backing for a proposed line-up from political opponents. Now, the renewed efforts have more chances after a thaw in ties between regional powerbrokers Syria and Saudi Arabia. Hariri's parliamentary majority is backed by Saudi Arabia.
On Wednesday night, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was surprisingly present at the launch of a high-tech co-ed university in Saudi Arabia. This may be a possible sign of rapprochement between the two states.