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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 January 2008, 17:15 GMT
Arab League backs Lebanon plan
Arab League General Secretary Amr Musa (R) and Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem (L) confer while at Cairo meeting
The talks discussed the situation of the political landscape in Lebanon.
The Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Musa, will head to Lebanon within the next two days to discuss an Arab plan to resolve the crisis there.

The plan, which Arab League foreign ministers agreed to in Cairo, is aimed at ending a deadlock over appointing a new president for Lebanon.

The plan calls for Lebanon's army chief, Gen Michel Suleiman to become the country's next president.

It is said to have the backing of Syria and Lebanon's main political groups.

But members of Hezbollah, at the heart of the Lebanese opposition, gave a more cautious response to the plan.

A dispute between the Western-backed government and the opposition, which is supported by Syria, has left Lebanon without a president since 23 November.

A parliamentary session to elect a president was postponed for the 11th time on 28 December, and is now due to begin on 12 January.

Three-stage plan

"The ministers welcome favourably the consensus around Michel Suleiman as a candidate for the presidency and call for his immediate election," Amr Moussa said after a consultative meeting of Arab League ministers in Cairo.

He said that Syria - which backs Lebanese opposition group Hezbollah - had supported the move.

Lebanon's army chief, Gen Michel Suleiman. File photo
Gen Suleiman is widely seen as a consensus candidate for the top job

Mr Moussa said the ministers had also agreed on the three-stage plan, adopted on Sunday.

It envisages the election of a new president, the formation of a national unity government and the adoption of a new electoral law.

The Lebanese government and opposition agree that the next president, traditionally a Maronite Christian and elected by parliament, should be Gen Suleiman.

But they disagree over the shape of a future government.

On Friday, Hezbollah said it would not allow a president to be elected unless it received one third of the cabinet seats.

This would give Hezbollah and its allies a veto over key decisions.

The government proposes reforming the cabinet to give the new president a casting vote. The wider political crisis has paralysed the government and parliament for more than a year and spilled over into armed clashes and political assassinations.

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