Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Gemayel: Stable Lebanon is key to regional peace

BEIRUT: Achieving stability in Lebanon is the first step to solving other Arab crises, especially those of Palestine and Iraq,  former President Amin Gemayel said Monday. The former president was speaking from Egypt following a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, whom he met for talks on the current situation in the Arab world and the Lebanese crisis.

"During our meeting, I sensed from President Mubarak his complete understanding of the situation in Lebanon and his support for Lebanon’s march toward internal stability and peace through the respect for constitutional institutions and the Lebanese democratic system," Gemayel said

Leaving the two-hour-meeting with Mubarak with a proclaimed sense of optimism, Gemayel hoped efforts exerted by the Egyptian president with other Arab countries concerned, in particular Saudi Arabia, arrive at a solution to the current political deadlock in Lebanon.

Gemayel said that any solution to the current crisis and any agreement reached has to respect the Lebanese Constitution and Lebanese traditions, and not be just a temporary "pain-killer" solution that results in only a "fragile truce," which no sooner materializes than it falls apart.

"President Mubarak is conducting intensive contacts with Lebanese politicians, either directly or through envoys, and he is in constant touch with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on finding solutions that meet the best interests of the Lebanese people, cement stability, respect constitutional institutions and the applicable laws," Gemayel said.

Speaking to the Egyptian press, Gemayel said all crises in the region are interconnected and said the key to any solution to the Lebanese crisis is the ratification of the tribunal of an international character to try suspects in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and all assassinations since then, up to the November killing of his own son, Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel.

"We do not look at the tribunal as a means for exacting revenge, but we see it as a means to end the criminal [assassinations] actions in Lebanon, that have been aimed at senior journalists, politicians and religious figures," the former president said.

He said that such criminal actions cannot be stopped except through international action by the UN Security Council and by ratifying the tribunal and the election of a new Lebanese president "especially as the extension of the current president’s term was a challenge to UN Security Council Resolution 1559."

Gemayel said he hoped progress is made toward an inter-Lebanese accord that comes about through agreement over the tribunal and achieving national interests, and affirming the legitimacy of the present government, which he pointed out still has the confidence of the parliamentary majority.