Lebanese Sunni, Shiite leaders meet for reconciliation

BEIRUT, Sept. 25 – A Shiite Hezbollah delegation has visited Sunni majority leader MP Saad Hariri at his residence in Beirut for the first time in two years, local As-Safier Daily reported on Thursday. The Wednesday meeting, which came four months after bloody battles between the two sides in May left over 70 people killed, paved the way for a gathering between Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah and Hariri “soon,” the report said.

The report, however, did not specify when the two were expected to meet.

Mohammad Raad, who heads the Shiite militant party’s parliamentary bloc and led the Hezbollah delegation, said he and Hariri held “frank talks” which would result in national unity to protect Lebanon against Israeli threats.

“We had open and frank talks in which we exchanged views, our political differences do not mean that we are not brothers,” Raad told reporters after the meeting.

“We emphasize on the commitment to what we agreed upon in Doha last May to revive lost coexistence and safeguard the resistance,” Raad said.

Two hours after the meeting with the Hezbollah delegation, Hariri said that the talks were aimed at “breaking thick ice,” according to local Naharnet website.

“We want the state and the army to be the arbitrators. We do not want Beirut to remain hostage of factional seduction,” but under control of the Lebanese army, said Hariri at an Iftar banquet.

“We would not issue a certificate of pardon to anybody, history would judge who caused harm to the capital” Hariri said.

Sunni leaders have been demanding a Hezbollah apology for the clashes which took place in May in the capital of Beirut, during which Hezbollah took over most Sunni areas.

The Doha agreement reached on May 21 ended the week-long of Sunni-Shiite fighting in the capital, and led to the election of President Michel Suleiman and the formation of a national unity government.

However, sporadic fighting between the two factions still rattled several Lebanese areas in the past four months.

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