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French Version

14:12 PM - Lebanon crisis talks adjourned until next week

Talks aimed at resolving Lebanon's worst political crisis in 16 years were on Tuesday abruptly adjourned until next week, political sources said.

They said the "national dialogue" talks, which were scheduled to continue until Thursday, would now be resumed on March 13. The adjournment came a day after anti-Syrian Druze leader Walid Jumblatt said from Washington that the Beirut talks were stalled.

There was no immediate official comment from the conference's moderator, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

The sources said Jumblatt's statements on Monday had cast a shadow over a morning session of the talks that was cut short after some participants said they would prefer to have Jumblatt at the table.

The Druze leader said from Washington that the talks, focused on the fate of pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud and ties with Syria, were deadlocked because the sides disagreed on disarming the Damascus-backed militant group Hezbollah.

Jumblatt, campaigning to have parliament vote Lahoud out of office, said he was lobbying the United States to press Syria harder into accepting the exit of what he called its "puppet".

He said the anti-Syrian coalition had refused to accept a compromise that would have removed Lahoud but allowed Hezbollah to keep its arms for its Syrian-backed campaign to fight Israel. Other anti-Syrian leaders had denied any such compromise had been discussed.

Jumblatt said the coalition would hold mass rallies if the talks made no headway.

The Druze leader attended the talks' opening on Thursday but then flew to Washington, leaving a top aide to represent him at the talks.

Muslim and Christian leaders, both pro- and anti-Syrian, began talks at a round table in parliament last week in the largest such gathering since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war

beirut,03 07 2006
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