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mansour L Mouallem RCaretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour stressed in remarks published on Thursday that he will represent Lebanon in the Geneva II conference, despite the objections of the March 14 coalition.

“I will represent Lebanon at the head of the Lebanese delegation in Geneva II, and it is not up to the March 14 coalition to decide on the issue, we do not follow their orders,” Mansour told As-Safir newspaper.

“Eventually, institutions and officials in power decide how things will take place” Mansour added.

He is probable referring to Speaker Nabih Berri who has apparently already made up Lebanon’s mind on attending a Geneva II peace conference on Syria and is adamant that his minister (Mansour), head the Lebanese delegation.

According o analysts Berri appears to have forgotten that Mansour has repeatedly questioned state policy, particularly on Syria– and is thus one of the most polarizing figures in the Cabinet.

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman disclosed last saturday that Lebanon would participate in Geneva II conference and abide by its decisions if they ( the decisions) do not conflict with Lebanon’s policy of dissociation which allows it to distance itself from the repercussions of the crisis in Syria.

Talks regarding Geneva II were made last Friday between UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and Suleiman. The latter underlined the importance of reaching a political solution to put an end to the war that has been raging in Syria for over two years.

Suleiman did not reveal who will represent Lebanon at Geneva II but Mansour stressed last Friday that he will attend the Syria talks if Lebanon receives an invitation, despite the fact that the March 14 coalition is opposed to him representing the country.

Emad Wakim, a key member of March 14 alliance said last Saturday : “If Mansour goes to Geneva he will be representing Hezbollah and not Lebanon”.

Many politicians have on several occasions described Mansour, who represents Speaker Nabih Berri in the cabinet as being “a Syrian Foreign Minister”.

Mansour, a member of the Amal Movement is a key ally of the Hezbollah militant group which is fighting alongside the forces of the Syrian regime against the Syrian rebels who are trying to overthrow the 40 year old dictatorship.

Lebanon adopted last year the Baabda declaration as its official policy to dissociate it from the conflict next door . But the war in Syria and Hezbollah’s direct involvement are threatening Lebanon’s polity, economy and society, and “obstructing” the work of Lebanon’s Parliament and the formation of the new cabinet.

The increasingly sectarian Syrian civil has claimed an estimated 120,000 lives and forced millions to flee their homes to neighboring countries.

Photo: Caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem in Damascus. Many Lebanese politicians have on several occasions described Mansour, who represents Speaker Nabih Berri in the cabinet as being “a Syrian Foreign Minister”.

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