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Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora took his campaign for a tribunal for the killers of Rafik Hariri to Egypt on Monday, holding talks with its president days after the United Nations indicated it was unwilling to appoint such a court without all-party agreement.
"We will exert all efforts and exhaust all means that lead to the establishment of this tribunal in Lebanon, and let it be known that we really want this court to be established," Saniora told reporters after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Saniora's government has been pushing for the creation of a UN-appointed tribunal to try the suspected killers of Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister w ho was assassinated by a massive truck bomb in February 2005. The opposition has refused to take part in a parliamentary vote that would ratify the court, arguing there must be limitations on its terms of reference.
The government asked the world body to impose the tribunal on the country. But the United Nations' chief legal counsel, Nicolas Michel, indicated Friday that this would not happen.
Speaking at the end of a visit to Lebanon, Michel said the United Nations would prefer the rival factions to agree on the tribunal.
"For 30 years, Lebanon has suffered dozens of assassinations and still we don't know about them, therefore, to protect democracy and freedom and to guarantee this freedom for the Lebanese people, an international tribunal must be established," Saniora said.
Egypt made no immediate comment on Saniora's talks with Mubarak, but the prime minister said Egypt had long supported his government and was trying to make all Lebanese parties sit down together to resolve their problems.
Egypt and Mubarak have "always supported Lebanon," he said.
Saniora told reporters he and Mubarak discussed developments in Lebanon and the region.
Opposition supporters have been camping outside Saniora's office in Beirut for months, demanding that he step down or give the Hizbullah-led alliance a veto-wielding share of the Cabinet.
Saniora said Monday that "the past few months of pressure, threats and other acts meant to stifle the economic and legal institutions, have produced no result.
"But we are still determined to follow dialogue and common understanding, and we hope our brothers will do the same," Saniora said of Hizbullah and its allies.
Later Monday, Saniora met Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, who has made several trips to Lebanon to try to negotiate a compromise between the two sides.
Saniora said Moussa would resume his efforts when there was real progress in the talks among the Lebanese factions.