Lebanon's rival Christian leaders hold talks headed by Maronite Church

11:49, April 20, 2011      

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Leaders of four Lebanese rival Christian groups held talks sponsored by the influential Maronite Church on Wednesday to discuss issues of interest to Lebanon's Christian community.

The four leaders, including leader of Free Patriotic Movement Michel Aoun, head of Kataeb Party Amin Gemayel, head of Lebanese Forces Samir Geagea and leader of Marada Movement Suleiman Franjieh, gathered in Bkirki, the seat of Maronite Church, for talks that was headed by the newly-elected Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai.

A statement issued after the three-hour discussion described the meeting as "brotherly and patriotic," and the participants agreed to hold additional meetings "whenever the need arises."

"An atmosphere of openness and frankness prevailed during the meeting," the statement said, without further elaboration.

Lebanon's Maronite parties are divided between the March 14 alliance headed by the Sunni Future Movement and the March 8 coalition led by the Shiite armed group Hezbollah.

The Maronite's attempt to ease tensions within the Christian community reportedly stems from its fear of the widening gap between the two camps, with one siding with the U.S.-French-Saudi camp and the other with the Syrian-Iranian camp.

Hezbollah and the Future Movement have been caught in a standoff over the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is probing the assassination of the movement's leader, Lebanese former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The court is widely expected to implicate Hezbollah members, but the powerful party denied the charges and slammed the court an "Israeli Project" to sow strife in Lebanon.

Source: Xinhua
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