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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

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Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Opinions and Editorials arrow Analysis: French Lebanon talks are kowtowing to Hezbollah
Analysis: French Lebanon talks are kowtowing to Hezbollah PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 14 July 2007

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner

It appears that the Israeli dilemma of whether Hezbollah emerged from the Second Lebanon War strengthened or weakened has been resolved by France. This weekend, Hezbollah figures will arrive in the French town of St. Cloud to conduct a "national Lebanese dialog" under French supervision. This is the first time Hezbollah has been invited to France as a political entity equal to the other factions, for a meeting intended to find a solution to Lebanon's political future.

To everyone participating in this meeting, which will apparently be presided over by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, Hezbollah's political power is clear. So clear, in fact, that the French president's special envoy, Jean Claude Cousseran, traveled specially to Tehran on Wednesday for the second time in 10 days, to persuade Iran to soften Nasrallah's stance on the issue of forming a national unity government in Lebanon.

Nasrallah thereby not only became Iran's representative in Lebanon, but also introduced Iran as an active partner in the political process, not only the military one, and gave it standing that Tehran will be able to exploit in discussions with France on other issues such as nuclear power and the future of Iraq.

Hezbollah's status has also made Saudi Arabia realize that it must cooperate with Iran on the matter of Lebanon.

Thus, the two countries conveyed to the Lebanese parties suggestions for a solution that might get political life out of the deep freeze into which it sank after the war.

In view of these developments, apparently the way of thinking that measures Hezbollah's power according to the number of rockets or launch pads it has needs to be revised, in consideration of the strategic leverage the war gave this group.

By Zvi Bar'el

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Other remarks in the Press

Lebanon leaders meet in France to try to renew dialogue
 
French FM shepherds talks between leaders of 14 political groups to strengthen Lebanese state.
 
LA CELLE SAINT CLOUD, France - Lebanon's divided political factions including the opposition Hezbollah were to begin two days of talks in France on Saturday to try to ease a crisis paralyzing the nation.

Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner was shepherding talks between leaders of 14 political groups at a chateau in La Celle Saint Cloud, on the western fringe of Paris.

Between 30 and 40 delegates are taking part including several ministers of the government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and some 20 members of parliament.

Hezbollah sent a delegation despite complaints from French Jewish groups who wish to discredit the movement that helped end Israel’s occupation of Lebanese land.

France hopes to encourage the Lebanese leaders to renew a dialogue that was shattered during the conflict with Israel last year and the resignation in November of opposition ministers.

The meeting will focus on the theme of "strengthening the Lebanese state", eight months after the six pro-Syrian ministers quit the cabinet, triggering the worst crisis since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war.

Fears are running high that the situation could deteriorate further if no deal is struck before the election by parliament in late September of a successor to pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud.

France has taken a leading role in trying to restore stability to Lebanon, with Kouchner travelling to Beirut in May for his first foreign trip after taking office.

The political crisis has been compounded by clashes which broke out two months ago between the army and militants at Nahr al-Bared refugee camp.

French officials have sought to downplay expectations in the days leading up to the meeting, which they have described as a confidence-building measure.

Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa said this week in Tunis that the meeting in France could be "a factor to help facilitate dialogue" but that no breakthrough should be expected.

According to Sarkozy’s spokesman David Martinon, France does not consider Hezbollah a terrorist group.

"Hezbollah is an important political actor in Lebanon. It is one of the components of the national dialogue," he said.

France has sent an envoy, Jean-Claude Cousseran, for talks in Washington, Beirut, Cairo, Tehran and Rabat, where he met with Saudi officials, to prepare for the meeting.

Defence Minister Herve Morin is due to meet Siniora in Beirut on Sunday and his Lebanese counterpart Elias Murr. Some 1,650 French troops are serving in the UN force in south Lebanon.

The meeting is to begin at 3:30 pm (1330 GMT) and end with a news conference Sunday at 6:00 pm (1600 GMT).

The talks were initially scheduled to end Monday morning, but Kouchner shortened the meeting to allow him to attend talks in Toulouse on Monday with Germany on the future of the European aerospace group EADS.



 
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