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Government talks in Beirut falter

Feb. 8, 2011 at 1:30 PM

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Talks to form a coalition government in Lebanon with members of the Western-backed March 14 alliance ended in a stalemate, a lawmaker said.

Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Nijab Mikati is trying to entice March 14 members to join a Cabinet likely dominated by members of the March 8 alliance that includes Hezbollah.

Amin Gemayel, the head of the right-wing March 14 member Phalange party, said talks are at a standstill, The Daily Star newspaper in Lebanon reports.

"Consultations on the formation of the government have reached a dead end as a result of the conditions put by the March 8 camp," Gemayel was quoted as saying.

Gemayel said Hezbollah and its March 8 allies were trying to control the Lebanese government by placing "impossible" conditions on March 14 members.

Sources close to the prime minister-designate said March 14 members were upset when Mikati rejected demands for four ministers in a unity government, The Daily Star adds.

Hezbollah brought down the government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri with the help of opposition lawmakers in January. Hezbollah and its allies were upset over Hariri's support for an international probe into the 2005 assassination of his father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

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