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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Siniora warns against Hezbollah ultimatum

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Prime Minister Fouad Siniora warned against pushing Lebanon to the abyss after Hezbollah has threatened to force his Cabinet's collapse by street protests.

"Taking matter to the verge of the abyss is not in the interests of anyone," Siniora said Wednesday, stressing that "we will resort to dialogue and consultations."

"Let no party think that it can be a winner because it is in nobody's interest for the country to collapse or become a struggle scene... Also, no party should try to push the other to a wall by saying 'either you take a certain decision or else...,'" Siniora added.

He stressed that Lebanon is passing through a very critical and sensitive phase that necessitates "patience, not tensions."

Hezbollah Secretary-General Seyed Hassan Nasrallah served a seven-day ultimatum to Siniora's government to resign and allow the formation of a national unity administration or he will force its collapse through street demonstrations.

In a three-hour interview with Hezbollah's Manar Television Tuesday night, Nasrallah called for dialogue with the opposition on the formation of a national unity government to include his Christian ally Gen. Michel Aoun, a former army commander and leader of the Free Patriotic Movement.

The proposal for dialogue on a new government was made by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, head of the Shiite Amal Movement, who suggested a week-long deadline to resolve the crisis instead of resorting to the streets, a move which is bound cause friction.

Meanwhile, the Christian Maronite clergy cautioned against a renewal of the war between Israel and Hezbollah under the pretext of continued arms smuggling to the Shiite militant group from Syria.

A statement by the Council of Maronite Archbishops said "Israel's violations of Lebanese air space, under the pretext of uninterrupted arms smuggling through the Lebanese-Syrian border, are worrying and raise fears of resumption of the war, from which all the Lebanese suffered its wrath."
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