Lebanon's factions meet for talks in France

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.