Lebanon's rival parties, their nation in political deadlock and facing violence on its northern and southern flanks, are meeting outside Paris on Saturday for unusual, long-awaited talks.
Hopes are not high for a breakthrough at the meeting, organized by the French Foreign Ministry.
Members of the country's 14 leading parties - including Hizbullah and its allies - will gather in the chateau at Celle Saint-Cloud, southwest of Paris, on Saturday and Sunday behind closed doors, with no set agenda. Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and a few other French officials will be there, too, but as observers, not mediators.
It is the first time the 14 parties are meeting since a national dialogue conference in November that failed to resolve the tensions. Since then the country's worst political crisis since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war has deepened.