Beirut - Last week Ya Libnan reported that general Aoun declared that Hezbollah is his closest ally. Yesterday he made it official. Aoun and Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah Secretary General met to ink their agreement.
MP Michel Aoun, leader of the Free Patriotic Movement met Monday afternoon, with the Hezbollah leader. After the meeting the two leaders met with the press in a joint appearance and issued a joint statement of understanding which covered the following issues:
2- Democracy by consensus
3- Election law
5- Missing during war
6- Lebanese in Israel
8- Lebanese Syrian relationship
9- Lebanese Palestinian relationship
10- Protection of Lebanese sovereignty and independence
They named the agreement "paper of understanding". The agreement was read by Hezbollah politburo member Ghaleb Abu Zeinab and FPM member Gebran Bassil.
Aoun and Nasrallah were on opposing ends. Aoun was a main proponent of anti-Syrian protests in the wake of former Premier Rafik Hariri's assassination last February. His organization supported the Cedar Revolution of March 14 while Nasrallah organized the pro-Syrian demonstration of March 8.
But Aoun broke with other anti-Syrian groups and charted his own middle-of-the-road course with Syria and with its allies in Lebanon. Nasrallah, meanwhile, broke an old alliance with anti-Syrian politician Walid Jumblatt, and with other partners in the coalition.
Aoun, a former army commander was driven into exile in 1991, is aiming for the presidency and needs all the support he can get.
Nasrallah, whose guerrillas are under international pressure to disarm, also needs support. His guerrillas, armed with thousands of rockets, fought Israeli forces until their withdrawal from south Lebanon in 2000 and continue to clash occasionally with Israel.
The agreement included unprecedented initiatives from Hezbollah to solve two of the most sensitive issues facing Lebanon: Lebanese-Syrian relations and the return of Lebanese detainees in Syrian jails and South Lebanese Army members that still live in Israel.
"The presence of Lebanese in Lebanon is better than their presence in the enemy's territory; therefore the solution to the Lebanese people present in Israel requires efforts to bring them back, taking into consideration the social circumstances that cover the issue," the statement said.
The statement also gave strong FPM support regarding Hezbollah's arms.
"Hezbollah's arms fall within two frameworks: the first is the justification of its presence, which are nationally acknowledged; and the second is the defining circumstances that lead to invalidating the reasons and justifications for its continuous presence," it said.
The Shiite-Christian embrace, which Nasrallah and Aoun repeatedly insisted was "not a political alliance or front against other parties, but rather a political rapprochement," was held at Mar Mikhail Church, located a few blocks from Hezbollah's headquarters in Beirut's southern suburbs.
Both leaders also repeatedly welcomed any party, sharing their vision and endorsing their statement.
"Between Aoun and I there is transparency. Be honest and tell me I disagree with you over this and that or I want to disarm you next year ... today we created a clear document and we both have enough courage and honesty to commit to it," Nasrallah said.
Aoun said he had not discussed the Baabda-Aley by-election in detail with Nasrallah, but added "every political rapprochement will lead to an electoral understanding, and we will be close in our decisions."
Hinting at the possibility of failing to find a compromise candidate, Nasrallah said: "The results of the Baabda-Aley by-election will be an example for people before they decide to go to early elections."
Aoun dismissed allegations that his rapprochement with the leading Shiite party - and the closest ally of Syria and Iran in Lebanon - will upset Christians.
"This statement is not an alliance with Syria but an attempt to define relations with Syria and it did not mention Iran. We should be held accountable based on the context of the paper and on our intentions and they do not go beyond Lebanon," he said.
Nasrallah said the meeting did not cover the issue of the presidency, but insisted his party will support Aoun's candidacy for president.
"We see in Aoun a serious and competent candidate who enjoys wide popularity," Nasrallah said.
Both leaders condemned Sunday's riots and asked the government for "transparent and thorough investigations." They also refused to lay blame on any party without solid proof of their involvement - in response to March 14 alliances' accusations of Syrian involvement in the riots.
Source: Ya Libnan, Agencies
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