Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hariri unveils bid on his life, meets Aoun in Paris

Mohamad Shmaysani

The head of the Change and Reform parliamentary bloc MP General Michel Aoun will meet in Paris with the head of the Future Movement bloc MP Saad Hariri, the elnashra news site said Tuesday. The site quoted a senior French diplomatic source as saying that preparations for this meeting had been ongoing in secret. The source added that when the security threat to both leaders reached a high level, it was decided to hold the meeting in Paris.

Hariri – Saniora Assassination Plot

Hariri is in Egypt for talks with President Hosni Mubarak over the Lebanese political crisis. He said he had evidence of assassination plots against himself and head of the unconstitutional government Fouad Saniora. Hariri made the claim in response to a question about alleged assassination plots by Syrian head of intelligence Assef Shawqat.

"We have intelligence about this and we are following it up," he told reporters. "The intelligence is correct and our security services are working on it. There is cooperation between Lebanese security services and Arab security services to avoid such assassinations," he said, without specifying which countries were helping in the investigations. Asked about Hariri's comments, an official at the Beirut office of the unconstitutional government said: "It is true and we have been informed about it." Hariri said his talks with Mubarak in Cairo focused on the vote and "the interference of certain states to prevent the holding of these elections." He added that Mubarak had promised to help prevent "any interference in the Lebanese presidential election or anything that might prejudice the stability of Lebanon."

Sfeir Criticizes Washington

The February 14 political bloc however continues to campaign for a presidential vote with the half-plus-one MPs formula; the core of the political crisis with the opposition, which wants elections to take place with the two-third quorum in harmony with the constitution.

Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir had said he adhered to the two-third quorum formula. He criticized Washington's indefinite position over the presidential vote. "Sometimes they tell us they are with the two-third formula and at other times they tell us they support the half-plus-one formula and that they back Saniora's government to rule in case of political void," Sfeir was quoted by Assafir daily.

Khoja Meets Saniora, Berri

Meanwhile, Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Abdul Aziz Khoja held a surprise meeting with House Speaker Nabih Berri after meeting with Saniora at the Grand Serail. In a joint press conference with Saniora, Khoja stressed Lebanon will have a new president and expressed confidence in the political players in Lebanon.

The Central News Agency quoted a source in the Saudi embassy as saying that the Saudi role did not retract. The source added that the instructions of King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz on how to deal with the Lebanese file are fixed. He also said that Saudi Arabia maintains its position that a Lebanese president should be made in Lebanon in harmony with the constitution without foreign pressure.