“There are two starting points. The first is that the current vacuum in the presidency entails huge dangers and maybe dialogue will achieve a breakthrough in the presidential deadlock,” lawmaker Ammar Houri told The Daily Star Wednesday.
But the Beirut MP stressed that specific names of candidates would not be discussed during the talks.
“Going into names requires discussions with all Lebanese parties, not just between the two of them.”
“The second point is that dialogue between Hezbollah and the Future Movement could defuse Sunni-Shiite tensions,” Houri added.
The lawmaker said his group had not set conditions for dialogue with Hezbollah, and would not accept any from its rival.
Currently outside Lebanon, Hariri will do a televised interview from France that will be aired on LBCI’s Kalam an-Nas talk show program at 9:30 p.m. local time. Expectations that dialogue between the two bitter rivals – both of whom are members of Prime Minister Tammam Salam’s government – would take place arose after Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah announced earlier this month that he backed the idea.
He was responding to a proposal months before by Hariri himself, who said Future was ready to communicate with all parties, including Hezbollah, to end the country’s presidential vacuum, which is now in its seventh month.
Parliament has failed since April to elect a successor to former President Michel Sleiman due to disagreements between the March 8 and March 14 coalitions over who should assume the country’s top Christian post.
Speaker Nabih Berri Tuesday said he had held separate meetings with Saudi Ambassador Ali Awad Asiri and U.S. Ambassador David Hale and that they both backed the planned dialogue. He added that he was waiting for the Future Movement to send him an agenda for the talks and that he would prepare his own as well.
Speaking to local media outlets Wednesday, Asiri denied that there was any link between his country’s demand for sanctions on Hezbollah earlier this month at the United Nations Security Council and Saudi Arabia’s attitude toward dialogue talks in Lebanon.
“We support any dialogue which brings the Lebanese together,” he said.
Asiri said he felt during his meeting with Berri that the Parliament speaker was determined to make the dialogue attempt a success.
The Saudi envoy said he hoped all Lebanese factions would respond positively to Berri’s initiative so that all disputes between Lebanese parties could be resolved. He added that the dialogue would focus on the presidential election issue and the need to preserve stability in the country, stressing that the Christian community’s voice should be a priority in former subject.
The Saudi diplomat also dismissed reports that he backed Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun’s presidential bid.
“It is not my right to nominate either General Aoun or any other figure; this is the right of the Lebanese,” Asiri said.