Talks between Lebanese political rivals postponed on final day

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 08, 2015 3:36 AM

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon's parliament speaker canceled the last day of this week's meeting aimed at discussing ways out of a political crisis after politicians made no progress on issues including high-level security appointments, the National News Agency said.

The three-day "national dialogue" called by Nabih Berri started on Tuesday and was aimed at finding solutions to a stalemate that has paralyzed government and helped fuel weeks of street protests.

The talks were set to run into Thursday but Berri postponed the next session until Oct. 26.

The political crisis is linked to wider regional turmoil, including the war in neighboring Syria which has driven well over 1 million refugees into Lebanon.

The government, formed last year with Iranian-Saudi backing, has struggled to take even the most basic decisions including over important appointments in security agencies. The presidency has been vacant since last year when Michel Suleiman's term expired without any agreement on who should replace him.

The dialogue involving sectarian political rivals comes after weeks of protests that have occasionally turned violent. Thousands of Lebanese took to the streets in anger over trash disposal, corruption and government incompetence.

The rallies have been organized independently of the main sectarian parties in a direct challenge to the political system.

(Reporting by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Louise Ireland)