Suleiman in Syria for talks over Lebanon tension


Lebanese President Michel Suleiman arrived in Damascus on Tuesday to hold talks with his counterpart Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to sources from both sides.

Sources told DPA that the two would discuss regional issues, as well as domestic Lebanese affairs.

The meeting comes on the heels of a proposal by Suleiman to form a parliamentary inquiry committee to look into matters relating to allegations about the reliability of some witnesses that have testified in the UN Tribunal for Lebanon (STL).

The tribunal was set up to look into the death of former Lebanese prime minister

Rafiq Hariri, who was killed by a car bomb in 2005, prompting international outrage and suspicions that Syria was complicit in the attack. Syria has rejected the accusations.

An initial UN inquiry had led to charges against four pro-Syrian officials in Lebanon, but they were released due to lack of evidence after serving four years in jail.

STL is reportedly poised to issue indictments against members of Hezbollah.

On Sunday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said his country and Saudi Arabia were coordinating efforts to ease tensions in Lebanon.

Tension escalated in Lebanon following reports that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will soon issue its indictment into the 2005 assassination of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Last July, the Hezbollah chief said that the tribunal is “an Israeli project” that will indict Hezbollah members. Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah accused Israel of being behind Hariri’s assassination but refused to provide the evidence to STL to support his claim. Hezbollah and its March 8 allies have been calling for the abolition of STL.

Some leaders are concerned that should the court indict Hezbollah members, it could lead to a Shiite-Sunni strife, others aren’t as worried and see this as a desperate intimidation by Hezbollah against truth and justice that will only lead to more damages to its image in both Lebanon and the entire region.

Al Akhbar newspaper reported last week that Hezbollah has prepared a plan to take over Lebanon when STL issues its indictment for the 2005 murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Nasrallah said in his speech last Thursday that Hezbollah will not allow the arrest of any of its members if indicted by STL : “Any hand that will touch any of them will be cut off, ” he said

On October 28, he called on all Lebanese to boycott the STL and to end cooperation with its investigators.

Last Saturday MP Jean Oghassabian told MTV: Today, the whole of Lebanon is waiting and wondering when would Hezbollah act militarily and cripple the state institutions, and what March 14’s possible reaction will be. DPA, Agencies