Lebanon’s politicians on Sunday welcomed the decision by Arab nations, including Syria, to back the head of Lebanon’s army as the next president, expressing hope the move would help end the country’s political crisis. Arab foreign ministers issued the endorsement of Gen. Michel Suleiman on Saturday after meeting in the Egyptian capital of Cairo.  The opposition requested that it receive representation in the governement porportionally to the distrubution of the parliamentr before allowing Suleiman to be elected.

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who is allied with the opposition, thanked the Arab ministers for their call, saying "we hope that it will be translated on the ground to ward off any strife and end the current crisis.""I tell the Lebanese that we can start with the Arab resolution to … confirm our unity," Berri added in a statement released by his office.

Saad Hariri, head of the parliamentary majority, echoed Berri’s endorsement, describing the resolution as a "historic stance that expresses the real Arab will in rejecting all kinds of pressure on our country." "It also gives the Lebanese people moral, political and national support that will enable them, God willing, to overcome the current period," he added.

The ruling coalition has accused the opposition of obstructing the election of a new president under orders from Syria and Iran. In turn, the opposition has claimed pro-government groups in the parliament majority follow U.S. policies.

Speaking from Cairo, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem told Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television that his country has repeatedly said it is ready to help end Lebanon’s political crisis but "cannot put pressure on anyone in Lebanon because the solution should be Lebanese."

Speaking about his meeting Saturday with Saudi counterpart Saud al-Faisal, al-Moallem said, "Syria has its friends in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia has its friends in Lebanon and we have agreed to cooperate."

Al-Moallem was apparently referring to Hariri, who holds Saudi citizenship and has close relations with the royal family in the oil-rich nation..

Lawmakers on both sides have agreed to back Suleiman as a compromise candidate, but the parliament must first amend the constitution to allow a sitting military chief to become president.

This process has been complicated by the opposition’s demand for a new unity government that would give it veto power over major decisions. Opposition boycotts have thwarted attempts to choose a president by preventing a two-thirds quorum.

The Arab foreign ministers statement called on Lebanon to elect Suleiman by Jan. 27, then resolve the issues surrounding a national unity government. The ministers also said the new president should have the power to cast his vote to break ties in the Cabinet.

Hezbollah legislator Hassan Fadlallah said the opposition will "openly discuss the Arab initiative because it (the opposition) is keen to find a solution to the political crisis."

Despite the decision by the Arab ministers not to support opposition veto power, Fadlallah praised their statement for addressing both the need to elect a president and form a new national unity government.

Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar Assad and Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa discussed the situation in Lebanon on Sunday with Iranian envoy Ali Larijani, who is a close aide to the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Larijani, who was visiting the Syrian capital of Damascus, said Iran supports any push to create consensus among the Lebanese people.

"We wish success for Amr Moussa’s efforts" said Larijani, referring to the head of the Arab League, who is scheduled to visit Lebanon in the coming days.