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French FM in Beirut in last-ditch attempt to solve Lebanese political crisis
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08:57, November 19, 2007

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French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner arrived here on Sunday night in a last-ditch attempt to nudge the feuding Lebanese parties to agree on a compromise presidential candidate, Lebanon's National News Agency (NNA) reported.

This is Kouchner's sixth visit to Beirut in six months. During his fifth visit last week, the French top diplomat convinced Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir to draft a list of presidential nominees from which rival leaders would choose a consensus candidate.

French charge d'affaires Andre Parant said Patriarch Sfeir submitted the list on Friday to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Saad al-Hariri, the leader of Lebanon's parliamentary majority.

Lebanese media gave different editions of the list, ranging from six to 12 names. But all the editions contain the following three candidates, namely lawmaker Boutros Harb and former lawmaker Nassib Lahoud endorsed by the ruling coalition known as March 14; and former army commander Michel Aoun supported by the opposition.

The fresh visit comes two days before the Lebanese parliament is due to convene on Nov. 21 to elect a successor to the current President Emile Lahoud, whose term ends on Nov. 24.

The session has been delayed for three times due to gaps between the pro-government ruling coalition and the opposition led by Hezbollah.

A compromise successor to Lahoud is crucial to defusing the one-year crisis as many fear that failure to reach a deal on the presidential candidate could result in power vacuum in the country or even lead to two rival governments.

Source: Xinhua

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