The Future Movement and Hezbollah held their third dialogue session on Friday and both agreed to support the government measures that shield the country against growing threats linked to the war in Syria.
The two rival parties issued a statement following the talks which stated that they had made “clear progress” in defusing sectarian tensions that can help bolster stability as Lebanon faces security challenges as a result of the fallout of the Syrian conflict.
Discussions between senior officials from the Future Movement and Hezbollah covered “security and political developments that happened during the past week and the positive assessment of the impact of the ongoing dialogue on them,” said the statement issued following a four-hour meeting hosted by Speaker Nabih Berri at his Ain al-Tineh residence.
As in past sessions, Future was represented by Nader Hariri, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s chief of staff and Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk . MP Samir Jisr did not attend this session because he was on a trip overseas
Hezbollah was represented by Hussein Khalil, a political aide to Nasrallah, Industry Minister Hussein Hajj Hasan and MP Hasan Fadlallah. Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil, a political aide to Berri, also attended.
The two sides stressed the need to protect “national decisions that shield the internal arena,” the statement added
This was a possible reference to the preemptive raids the Lebanese Army has been staging against terror groups, thwarting a series of suicide attacks in the country by arresting terror suspects, and last Monday’s successful crackdown that dismantled a terror operations room run by Islamist militants in the notorious Roumieh Prison and transferred them to a more tightly controlled prison block.
Referring to the two sides’ agreement in past dialogue sessions to defuse sectarian and political tensions fueled by the Syrian turmoil, the statement said: “Discussion continued on the points that had previously been addressed. Clear progress has been made in these points, thus opening the horizon for results that can help consolidate national stability.”
Machnouk, who oversaw the Roumieh Prison operation, has said that a security plan would soon be implemented in the northern Bekaa region to crack down on kidnappings for ransom, killings, drug smuggling and car thefts.
Defusing Sunni-Shiite tensions is the main item on the talks agenda which, officials from both sides say, also includes finding a mechanism to allow the election of a president, boosting efforts to combat terrorism, promoting a new vote law and energizing stagnant state institutions.
The statement did not say if the two sides discussed the 8-month-old presidential deadlock although some Future MPs had said the issue would be addressed during Friday’s session.
The Future-Hezbollah dialogue has won support from rival politicians, as well as from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, the U.S. and the European Union.
On the eve of Friday’s session, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah sounded upbeat about the outcome of dialogue with the Future Movement.
“I am very optimistic about the dialogue with the Future Movement and about reaching results amid the willingness on both sides,” Nasrallah told Al-Mayadeen TV channel Thursday night.
On Saturday Grand Mutfi Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan, who is the highest Sunni Spiritual authority expressed hope that points of views will be reconciled between Future and Hezbollah during their ongoing dialogue, noting that he is pinning major hopes on the talks.
“We are following up on the details of the dialogue and its course,” said Daryan at the Rafik Hariri International Airport before departing to Doha on an official visit.