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French Version

'Don't waste Paris III proceeds' - Chirac

French President Jacques Chirac told Lebanese parliamentary majority leader MP Saad Hariri Friday that the "constructive" outcome of the Paris III donor conference should not be squandered by political infighting. In a meeting at Elysee Palace in Paris, the leaders also discussed plans for an international tribunal to try suspects in the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri, the Lebanese Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Chirac told Hariri the "constructive outcome of the Paris III donor summit should not be jeopardized by the political skirmishes prevailing on the Lebanese scene," the station said.

The French president said that the international court could be formed under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, but he told Hariri that the establishment of the court "is better implemented within Lebanese constitutional institutions," adding that if such an approach failed "other means of having the court formed will be discussed."

Hariri said after the meeting that the establishment of the international tribunal was the only way to protect Lebanon from "evil forces that roam around it."

Asked whether the court will be established under Chapter 7 if various Lebanese groups fail to agree on its formation, Hariri said that "everything will be discussed in time."

A Chapter 7 designation would allow for the implementation of the court by international parties without the approval of Lebanon's Parliament.

Speaker Nabih Berri, a member of the opposition, has so far refused to convene a parliamentary session to endorse a draft proposal for the tribunal.

In an interview Thursday on CNN, Hariri said Berri was "not allowed" to suspend parliamentary sessions "because Lebanon is a democratic country."

"We will denounce anyone who contributes to hindering the formation of the court," he said.

Hariri addressed Future Movement members Thursday at the headquarters of the European Parliament in Brussels.

He said Lebanon was facing a campaign to spoil its democracy and reverse the results of democratic polls "through an internal crisis generated and supported by Lebanon's neighbors through their Lebanese proxies."

Syrian threats against Lebanon are taking their toll on the political class and terrorizing journalists, intellectuals and politicians, Hariri said.

"They killed presidents, ministers, members of Parliament, journalists, intellectuals, religious leaders and writers," he said, adding that Lebanon's crisis "can only be solved through dialogue."

"The majority in the Lebanese Parliament will not leave a stone unturned until we find a solution that protects our country and saves our people from the threat of violence and internal strife," he said.

Hariri expressed hope that upcoming "crucial" regional summits, such as the Islamic summit, the Arab League summit and a regional conference in Iraq, would "bring much-needed stability and political openings in the region, so that Lebanon can breathe easier and avoid all the negative impact of the current standoff in the area."

He added that the summits "will send a strong message to all those who are interfering in Lebanon that they should let Lebanon live in peace."

"Lebanon is not an island and we are affected by the regional environment," he said. "Our efforts and our contacts with the Arab world and with our friends are focused on protecting Lebanon and neutralizing the regional forces that might destabilize our country."

Beirut 05-03-2007
The Daily Star

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