Future movement leader and former PM Saad Hariri revealed Thursday that the cabinet will resume its sessions soon, stressing that that the swift election of a new Lebanese president was a necessary prelude to the implementation of a national strategy to combat terrorism.
“The government will resume its work soon, in light of the contacts I made with Prime Minister Tammam Salam,” Hariri said during a Center House meeting with Arab ambassadors to Lebanon.
The government did not hold its weekly meeting Thursday, and Salam, who flew to Rome on a private trip, has stressed that the Cabinet will only resume its meetings after a new decision-making mechanism can be agreed upon.
The government began exercising the powers of the presidency on May 25 of last year, when the post became vacant. Since then, members of the 24-member body have insisted on the unanimous approval of decisions and decrees, significantly reducing its productivity.
The Constitution stipulates that if unanimous approval cannot be achieved, standard decisions can be passed by a simple majority, and major decisions, specified by Article 65, with the approval of two-thirds of the Cabinet’s members
Hariri also stressed in his remarks to the Arab delegation that any national strategy to combat terrorism must be implemented by legitimate security forces.
“Any strategy to confront terrorism can only take place through the Lebanese Army and legitimate security forces, who are already shouldering this responsibility across the country,” he said, adding : “But the proper prelude to the implementation of a national strategy is the swift election of a president.”
Earlier, Hariri had discussed the security situation in the country with Interior Minister Nouhad Mashnouk, head of General Security Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous, and head of the ISF’s Information Branch Brig. Imad Othman.
On Wednesday, Hariri’s Future movement and Hezbollah announced after their sixth dialogue session that they explored means to find a “national anti-terror strategy,” amid a continued dispute between them over the state’s role in such a plan of action.
Hariri explained to his Arab envoys that the dialogue is aimed at “defusing Sunni-Shiite tensions” and “alleviating the repercussions of Hezbollah’s participation in the Syrian war.”
He then hoped to reach an “agreement” with the party over the election of a new president, noting that “the right gateway to devising a serious national strategy should be through the election of a president for the republic as soon as possible.”
Separately, Hariri lauded Saudi Arabia’s “generous” $4 billion donation to the Lebanese army and security forces.
He called for reaching “a comprehensive Arab strategy to combat the phenomenon of terrorism that is proliferating in many countries and threatening the entire world,” without forgetting to warn of “the continuous Israeli threats against Lebanon and its sovereignty.”
Hariri also cautioned of “the threats of Iranian interference in the domestic situations of Arab countries, especially in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.”
Hariri later met separately with Maj. Gen. Mohammad Khair, secretary-general of the Higher Defense Council.
The meetings came one day after Hariri had dinner with Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun.
“The meeting was good, and was part of the efforts to strengthen understanding. We will not turn away any assistance in our work to defuse tensions in the country,” Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil told reporters at Rafik Hariri International Airport, before departing on an official visit to Latin America. “God willing, we can provide further help in future for larger agreements.”
FPM parliamentary sources also described the Hariri-Aoun meeting as “friendly.”
According to media reports the talks addressed a number of issues, among them the presidential election, a controversy over the retirement age of Army and police officers, the situation on Lebanon’s borders, and the war on terrorism.
According to the reports , Hariri stressed to Aoun that he had no issues with his candidacy, but that an agreement with Christian leaders, particularly Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, was necessary.
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