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Beirut hosts leaders ahead of elections

Nov. 9, 2007 at 12:20 PM   |   Comments

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- Foreign delegates visited Beirut for talks on Lebanon's presidential elections in an effort to avoid a power vacuum that would damage the country's stability.

The current term for the pro-Syrian Lebanese President Emile Lahoud expires Nov. 24 and the National Assembly has until Nov. 23 to replace him.

Secretary-General of the Elysee Claude Gayan was in Beirut Friday ahead of a scheduled visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to voice the support of timely elections according to the Lebanese constitution, the official Kuwaiti news agency KUNA reported Friday.

Gayan spoke with Syrian leader Bashar Assad to discuss Lahoud's successor and was scheduled to meet with various Lebanese religious leaders.

Maronite leader Nasrallah Butros Sfeir told reporters Thursday "The situation we are going through now is worse than what it was 30 years ago," KUNA reported.

Internally, parliamentarian Saad Hariri talked the head of the Free Patriotic Movement MP Michel Aoun to discuss developments since earlier meetings in Paris.

Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Reza Shibani voiced Iran's support for Lebanon to Aoun saying, "We are optimistic things are moving forward positively ... and Iran fully supports the Lebanese reaching a consensus," the Lebanon Daily Star reported Friday.

Other leaders continued meetings in Beirut to develop a "consensus" to assist in a smooth presidential election.

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