Hezbollah arms, the hot issue during Dialogue talks

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Hezbollah arms was the hot issue during the National dialogue talks that took place yesterday at the Baabda palace . Both March 8 and March 14 alliances were represented at the talks.

President Michel Suleiman who chaired the session reportedly intervened to end the heated arguments of rival politicians and postponed the talks till June 3.

March 8 representatives insisted to halt debate on Hezbollah arms during the dialogue talks , arguing that “Lebanon has no alternative but the Resistance.”

Hezbollah MP Mohammed Raad hinted at boycotting dialogue sessions if debate continued on Hezbollah arms rather than the national defense strategy.

“Either we want a serious dialogue under the ‘Defense Strategy’ topic that includes key aspects of military, security, political, media, cultural, social and economic, or we don’t want a serious dialogue, but rather exchange rhetoric,” Raad told dialogue participants.

If this is the case, then “we are not willing to continue to participate in the dialogue” process, Raad warned.

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea shot back, saying “we have the right to discuss the issue of weapons here” at the dialogue table.

“I tell you I am going to criticize Resistance arms in every statement. This is our political right.” Geagea added

Prime Minister Saad Hariri was was not amused by Raad’s withdrawal threat, and told him : “How do you demand to stop debate on Hezbollah arms while you don’t stop day and night from criticizing (former PM) Siniora, Dr. Samir Geagea and (former) President Amin Gemayel?”

President Michel Suleiman’s office issued a statement on Thursday following the talks . According to the statement, the national dialogue committee agreed to the following six points :

1) Continue to present studies on the national defense strategy.

2) Continue appointing representatives to the committee of experts to find common ground between the different proposals.

3) Continue the discussion of the national defense strategy to protect and defend Lebanon.

4) Limit the discussion of the national defense strategy to the national dialogue committee and commit to political and media calm.

5) Reiterate the commitment to the decisions reached in the 2006 National Dialogue and work to implement them, particularly those pertaining to the arms of Palestinian factions outside the refugee camps.

6) Set the next session’s date to June 3.

The statement also said that Suleiman kicked off the session by reiterating the importance of dialogue and called for preserving the national dialogue committee.