Mikati to represent Beirut at Syrian peace talks

Nov. 15, 2013 at 10:49 AM
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BEIRUT, Lebanon, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati will represent Lebanon at planned peace talks on Syria, government sources told The Daily Star newspaper in Beirut.

The Lebanese newspaper said Mikati is slated to head to expected peace talks in Geneva, Switzerland. He will represent Beirut instead of caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour, who is under fire for his open support for the Syrian government of embattled President Bashar Assad.

Lebanon has a formal policy of dissociation regarding Syria after breaking free of Syrian dominance with its Cedar Revolution in 2005.

The Daily Star reported Lebanese leaders feel their government should play a role in diplomatic efforts regarding Syria because the crisis is so close to its borders.

The danger from Syria's civil war escalated when Hezbollah admitted this year its militia was fighting alongside pro-government forces in Syria. In a rare public appearance Thursday, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah defended the activity in Syria.

"Our presence in Syria and the presence of our fighters there is, as we have said previously, to defend Lebanon, Palestine, the Palestinian cause and Syria, which is the backbone of the resistance," he was quoted by The Daily Star as saying.

Mikati is backed by the March 8 coalition, a political group that includes Hezbollah.

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