Hariri and Sfeir respond to Berri’s proposal

In the news today, Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir responded to Speaker Nabih Berri’s controversial call to form a committee to eliminate political sectarianism.

Hariri told reporters on Thursday that Berri’s call requires consensus between political parties.

A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told An-Nahar newspaper in an interview published on Friday that Hariri will carry out a series of meetings to try and convince Berri to not rush into forming the committee to eliminate political sectarianism.

The source also said that Hariri requested Future bloc MPs as well as his political team to deliberate with all parties and to avoid disputes over the issue. He called for engaging in calm dialogue to preserve national unity, added the source.

As for Sfeir, he said that sectarianism should be eliminated from the peoples’ souls before being eliminated from Lebanese politics.

However, Sfeir said he has not met with Speaker Berri recently, and he does not know why the speaker insists on forming a committee to abolish political sectarianism.

Meanwhile, US National Security Advisor James Jones is to arrive in Beirut today to meet with high-ranking Lebanese officials and reportedly discuss cooperation between the two countries in countering terrorism.

His visit to Beirut is part of his Middle East tour to discuss US views on security, politics and peace.

According to An-Nahar newspaper, Jones will meet with President Michel Sleiman upon his arrival.

He is expected to address the issue of US aid to the Lebanese army.

Sleiman, in turn, will reportedly raise the issue of the US administration’s decision to subject Lebanese traveling to the US to enhanced security measures. He will also reportedly discuss US congress’ recent bill, which aims to impose sanctions on satellite channels accused of supporting terrorism, including Al-Manar.

The daily also said that Sleiman will brief Jones on Israel’s violations of UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

Also in the news, PM Hariri will head to Paris for a three-day visit on January 20, during which he is expected to meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy to discuss the recent political developments.

The PM will also reportedly discuss economic issues, including the reforms suggested in the Paris III Conference.

The trip will be Hariri’s first visit to a non-Arab country as a PM.


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