By Hania Taan, Daily Star staff Thursday, November 03, 2005, BEIRUT: The leader of the Lebanese Forces (LF) said Wednesday he would like to see his Maronite Christian group in a closer relationship with Shiite party Hizbullah. Samir Geagea, head of the LF executive committee, said during the last parliamentary elections that LF had contacts and relations with Hizbullah "and we hope they advance forward."

Geagea made his stand clear during a news conference at the Cedars on Wednesday. Regarding LF’s relation with the Hizbullah in the light of the implementation of UN Resolution 1559, Geagea said that at present, "We should focus on Resolution 1595." This resolution called for the establishment of an independent commission to investigate the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

When asked if he supported Resolution 1559, he asserted that he supported resurrecting the state, reiterating "we cannot demand the implementation of any resolution except 1595." Geagea stressed that LF did not have a problem with anyone despite differing points of view. This is normal in a democratic regime, said Geagea.

The LF leader also stressed the Taif Accord should govern Lebanon’s domestic and foreign policy. He explained the accord should lay the foundation for dialogue in dealing with Palestinian arms inside the refugee camps and in bases along the Syrian border. Geagea stressed that dialogue was the "necessary means to solve all issues."

Replying to a question on his meeting with Egyptian Ambassador Hussein Derar on Tuesday, Geagea said Egypt had an important role to play in the region, adding that it had always stood beside Lebanon.

Commenting on Metn MP Michel Murr’s comments that the presidency issue should not be discussed at this stage, Geagea said the entire situation "is being laid on the table."  

"The transitional stage cannot go on forever," he said.

Commenting on former Minister Suleiman Franjieh’s suggestion to bury the hatchet on past disputes, Geagea said: "Definitely, we will have an answer, and it will be a positive one … but the problem is that I remained 11 years in prison, and once I got out, everybody wants everything from me."

He added that he needed more time to weigh things, but said he was ready to speak with all parties, including Franjieh.

During parliamentary elections in the North, Tony Franjieh, a member of the Marada militia that was created by former president Suleiman Franjieh, shot two LF members in Dahr al-Ain.

"Ever since the end of the war, we agreed not to go back to the past," said Geagea, adding that the Dahr al-Ain’s incident was being followed up legally.

Meanwhile, LF MP George Adwan said Lebanon could not be built except on coexistence and real partnership, where each citizen should accept his fellow citizen.

He stressed that everyone was under the rule of state, so "there should be no arms except for the State’s."

Adwan added that a country could not be built under the patronage of another state.

"We do not want to replace the Syrian hegemony by any other, whether they are American, French or Saudi," he said.

Adwan said the no one knows Lebanon’s interests more than the Lebanese themselves, stressing the decision regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict was that it would be the last country to sign a peace accord with Israel.