Rival Lebanese political leaders stepped up their dialogue Thursday trying to reach an agreement on a new president and prevent the country from sliding deeper into a crisis that threatens its unity.
The discussions between the pro-government and opposition camps began immediately after Parliament failed Tuesday to elect a president because of a boycott by the Hizbullah-led opposition.
Since then, the leader of the pro-government majority in Parliament, Saad Hariri, has met three times with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who is aligned with the opposition - their first meetings in months. On Thursday, Hariri held talks with Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, head of the influential Maronite Catholic Church.
Under Lebanon's sectarian-based political system, the president traditionally hails from the Maronite community, which makes up the largest sect among the minority Christians.