Information Minister Tarek Mitri announced yesterday that the government adopted the Ministerial Statement, which was finalized on Monday by a 12-member committee that represents all parties in the cabinet. The document will be handed over to the parliament to be studied by the MPs today, and they will again convene next week to grant the government its vote of confidence.
The Ministerial Statement was adopted without being amended, said Mitri, adding that Labor Minister Boutros Harb objected to Article 6 of the document – which pertains to Hezbollah and its weapons – while ministers Selim Sayegh, Salim Wardeh, Ibrahim Najjar and Michel Pharaon all expressed their reservations.
Mitri said, “The ministers who expressed reservations or objections were the ones who stressed most on the cabinet’s solidarity. This is mentioned in the Ministerial Statement’s introduction.” He stressed that their positions do not make them an opposition within the cabinet.
Meanwhile, Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun met with the Maronite Bishops Council – which was headed by Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir – in Bkirki on Wednesday.
“The sit-down was necessary to clarify political positions and motives and to remove any ambiguity,” said Aoun following the meeting.
Relations soured between the patriarch and Aoun after the latter signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Hezbollah in 2006.
Aoun said that there were common as well as divergent points of view over the issues that were discussed, describing the meeting as “historical.”
The Maronite Bishops Council, in turn, issued a statement saying that it welcomed the FPM leader’s visit to Bkirki, where he and the bishops discussed various national issues
Also in the news are more reports on President Michel Sleiman’s three-day visit to Washington later this month to meet his US counter, Barack Obama, and other senior US officials.
The White House said yesterday that Obama wants to bring up “a broad range of issues of mutual concern, including efforts to strengthen the bilateral relationship between the United States and Lebanon, achieve a comprehensive regional peace, and implement relevant UN Security Council resolutions.”
Sleiman told the ministers during the cabinet’s meeting yesterday that he would be making the trip along with Minister of Defense Elias al-Murr and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Chami.
As for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the president commended its work following his meeting with STL Prosecutor General Daniel Bellemare – who arrived in Beirut Tuesday for a weeklong visit to meet with high-ranking officials.
The president said that he “trusts its verdicts that are based exclusively on evidence and are not affected by politics.”
Bellemare, in turn, congratulated Sleiman on the cabinet formation and the election of Lebanon as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. He also thanked Sleiman for the cooperation of the Lebanese authorities with the STL and stressed the tribunal’s impartiality.