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Key Countries Voice Concern At Lebanese Crisis

Key countries at UN-led meeting voice concern at prolonged Lebanese crisis

Representatives of key Arab and European countries and the United States, in a meeting in Paris led by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, today expressed dismay at the prolonged stand-off over the presidency in Lebanon and reiterated earlier calls for the poll to be held as soon as possible.

In a statement released after the meeting, the participants called for the Lebanese parliament to "be allowed to convene immediately to fulfil its constitutional duties. We insist that outside powers act in compliance with the decisions of the Security Council, binding under international law upon all Member States, and fully respecting Lebanon's constitution and democratic institutions."

The statement also strongly condemned the series of political assassinations and attempted killings that the Middle Eastern country has endured since October 2004, including the most recent attack, last Wednesday's assassination of Brigadier General François al-Hajj.

"These acts of terror constitute a direct attack against the symbols of Lebanon's sovereignty and institutions and are, as such, unacceptable and morally repugnant. It is imperative that the perpetrators of these crimes are brought to justice."

To that end, the meeting's participants backed Mr. Ban's efforts to set up the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to try those accused of the many attacks, particularly the February 2005 car bombing in Beirut that killed the former prime minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others.

"In these difficult times in Lebanon, we support the legitimate, democratically-elected Lebanese Government and the Lebanese armed forces in their efforts to maintain the sovereignty and stability of Lebanon," the statement noted.

Today's meeting, held under the auspices of Mr. Ban on the sidelines of the Palestinian donors' conference in the French capital, was attended by representatives of Egypt, Italy, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, the European Union Presidency, the European Commission and the European Council's High Representative/Secretary-General.


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