Nasrallah: US and Israel caused Lebanese gov't collapse

Hizbullah leader accuses Hariri of betraying agreement on murder probe, says he brought down government "in a civilized way."

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
January 17, 2011 07:36
2 minute read.
Hizbullah Nasrallah on TV

Hizbullah Nasrallah on TV 311 AP. (photo credit: Associated Press)

BEIRUT — The leader of Hizbullah defended the decision to bring down Lebanon's Western-backed government, saying the Shi'ite militant group did so without resorting to violence and will not be intimidated by world reaction.

In his first comments since the government collapse on Wednesday, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah also said Sunday that his bloc will not support Sa'ad Hariri returning to his post as prime minister in talks Monday on forming a new government.

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"The tribunal is an independent, international judicial process whose work is not subject to political influence, either from inside Lebanon or from outside," US Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly said Sunday after meeting with Hariri. "The efforts by the Hizbullah-led coalition to collapse the Lebanese government only demonstrate their own fear and determination to undermine Lebanon's sovereignty and independence."

Since his ouster, Hariri has tried to rally international support in the US, France and Turkey.

The leaders of Turkey, Qatar and Syria will meet in the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Monday to discuss the political crisis, Turkey's Anatolia news agency reported.

Lengthy negotiations lie ahead between Lebanon's Western-backed blocs and the Hizbullah led-alliance. If those fail, Lebanon could see a resurgence of the street protests and violence that have bedeviled the country in the past.

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman will launch formal talks Monday on creating a new government, polling lawmakers on their choice before nominating a prime minister. According to Lebanon's power-sharing system, the president must be a Christian Maronite, the prime minister a Sunni and the parliament speaker a Shiite.

Each faith makes up about a third of Lebanon's population of 4 million.


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