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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 November 2007, 16:11 GMT
UN joins Lebanon crisis mediation
Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir
The Maronite patriarch is at the centre of mediation efforts
The UN chief has arrived in Lebanon to join efforts to end its impasse over the election of a new president.

Ban Ki-moon is bolstering a French-led initiative to find a successor to the Syrian-backed incumbent Emil Lahoud, whose term ends on 23 November.

Parliament has postponed three votes as feuding pro-Syrian and pro-Western MPs failed to agree a compromise candidate.

The crisis has caused the worse internal political crisis in Lebanon since its 1975-90 civil war.

There are fears that the government could split into rival administrations if a candidate cannot be agreed by both sides.

Mr Ban arrived in Beirut on Thursday afternoon and is due to hold talks with the Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir, who is reported to have drawn up a list of candidates that may be acceptable to government and opposition.

Lebanon's president is traditionally chosen from the Maronite Christian minority.

The UN secretary general will also hold talks with the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority and the Hezbollah-led opposition.

France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner held talks with the patriarch on Tuesday.

Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema and Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa are also due in Beirut later in the week and Mr Kouchner returns next week for his sixth visit in six months.

Parliament is scheduled to meet again on 21 November. Mr Lahoud says he will appoint an interim administration, headed by the army chief, if his successor is not in place.

Lebanese MPs shelter from assassination attempts

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