Amal leader calls for meeting of rival parties

October 25, 2006 15:22

Lebanese Parliament Speaker and Amal leader Nabih Berri on Wednesday invited Lebanon's bickering political leaders to meet for talks to prevent political tension from degenerating into street clashes between rival camps. Berri presented his proposal as a "gift" to the nation on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim feast that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Berri said the talks, which he set to begin on Oct. 30, would last no longer than two weeks and focus on the issues of forming a national unity government, drafting a new elections law and devising a plan to pay off the country's mounting national debt. "Unfortunately, we are aware of the existing vertical and horizontal, not to mention sectarian and factional, splits in the country," he said at a news conference Wednesday. Berri said he hoped the 14 leaders, pro- and anti-Syrian, Christian and Muslim, who had been engaged in a "national dialogue" since March would accept his invitation.

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