The U.S. and France are expected to hold talks on the political crisis in Lebanon this week as diplomats said efforts will be exerted to convince Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun to nominate a consensual presidential candidate.
An Nahar daily said Tuesday that French Ambassador to Lebanon Patrice Paoli was summoned to Paris to set the stage for the consultations between Washington and Paris on the presidential elections deadlock.
Al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri is expected to meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry this week. Similar talks could be held between Hariri and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, the newspaper said.
Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblat, who met with Hariri on Friday, is also expected to hold talks with French President Francois Hollande by the end of June.
According to al-Joumhouria, Minister Wael Abou Faour, who is a PSP official, briefed on Monday both Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Tammam Salam on the results of the Jumblat-Hariri talks.
The adviser of al-Mustaqbal movement’s leader, Nader Hariri, is also expected to meet with March 14 officials to give them details on the meeting that took place in Paris.
Meanwhile, An Nahar quoted diplomats as saying that efforts will be exerted to convince Aoun to give up his candidacy in favor of a compromise candidate.
Aoun has refused to announce his candidacy, saying he would run for the country’s top Christian post if there was consensus on him.
The MPs of his Change and Reform bloc along with the majority of the March 8 camp’s lawmakers have boycotted parliamentary sessions aimed at electing a president.
Despite the boycott and the pressure exerted by March 8, the March 14 alliance has backed Aoun’s rival, Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea, who was the first to announce his candidacy for the presidency.
Lebanon has been without a president since May 25, when Michel Suleiman’s six-year term expired.
According to An Nahar’s diplomatic sources, the talks with Aoun are aimed at stopping a prolonged vacuum at Baabda Palace amid mounting regional tensions over dramatic events in nearby Iraq, where the al-Qaida splinter group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has seized large chunks of territory in the country’s north and west.
There are fears that Lebanon would face the repercussions of the deteriorating security situation in Iraq.