Syria wants Lebanon unity govt led by designate PM

DAMASCUS - The Syrian government called on Lebanon’s divided political leaders on Thursday to join what it described as a unity government led by Prime Minister designate Najib Mikati.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Thu 27 Jan 2011, 8:34 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 9:06 AM

‘We hope a national unity government will be formed and all Lebanese parties join,’ Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al Moualem told reporters, in the first official reaction from Damascus to Mikati’s appointment.

Moualem said after meeting British Foreign Secretary William Hague in the Syrian capital that Syria was ready to cooperate with the Mikati government and that other countries should not ‘prejudge’ the cabinet under formation.

Mikati, a friend of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, said he will seek to form a cabinet of what he called technocrats if defeated rival Saad Al Hariri’s supporters reject his call for them to join his government.

Mikati, a billionaire who made his fortune in telecoms, was nominated with the support of Syrian- and Iran-backed Shia Hezbollah. He started talks on Thursday to form a government to succeed Hariri who was brought down by Hezbollah and its allies two weeks ago.

Hague, who also met Assad on Thursday, said Britain wanted Mikati’s government to uphold its obligations to an international tribunal set up with the backing of Western powers to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of Hariri’s father, former Lebanese premier Rafik Al Hariri.

Saad Al Hariri’s movement asked Mikati on Thursday not to cut Lebanon’s links to a U.N.-backed tribunal, and did not rule out joining the cabinet if their demands are met.

The tribunal is a major point of contention between Hariri and Hezbollah, which says the court will accuse some of its members in the 2005 killing.

An international investigation implicated Syrian security officials in the Killing. Syria and Hezbollah have repeatedly denied involvement in the assassination of Rafik Al Hariri and pointed to what they regard as flaws in the investigation.

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