Lebanon's cabinet resigned on Wednesday (16 May) to make way for a government of national reconciliation.
LV INTERIOR President Elias Sarkis of Lebanon seated with Syrian President Hafez al-Assad in Presidential Palace (Assad on right) (3 shots)
GV Presidents driving in motorcade arriving at Syrian-Lebanese border as 21-gun salute is sounded and getting out of car and President Sarkis is introduced to government officials
SV Presidents to attention as band plays national anthems
CU PAN FROM Guard of honour TO Presidents reviewing troops
CU President Sarkis speaking to newsmen in Arabic
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Background: Lebanon's cabinet resigned on Wednesday (16 May) to make way for a government of national reconciliation. This was announced by the out-going Prime Minister Dr. Selim al-Hoss. He said the resignation had been accepted by President Elias Sarkis who called on the ministers to remain in a caretaker capacity.
SYNOPSIS: The resignation came after two days of talks in Damascus between Sarkis and his Syrian counterpart, President Hafez al-Assad, on ways to ease the tension in Lebanon. In a statement after the summit, Mr. Sarkis expressed satisfaction with the outcome of his discussions, claiming the two presidents' viewpoints were identical.'
Lebanon and Syria say they have found a common approach to restoring stability to Lebanon after four years of civil strife that has turned the country into a patchwork of feuding factions. Political observers believe that the Prime Minister's resignation plays into the hands of the two presidents, for Lebanon's divided politicians must now settle their differences in order to find a suitable successor. Coincidentally, Lebanon's two main rightist parties, the Falange and the National Liberal Party (NLP), on Tuesday (15 May) announced a merger plan following three days of street fighting that cost an estimated twenty-five lives.
But, political observers say, no rapid results should be expected from the unity plan because of differences between and within the two parties. And there was similar scepticism over the outcome of the Sarkis-Assad summit, the fifth of its kind. Syria maintains a force of thirty thousand men in Lebanon which the rightists call an army of occupation. It was thus unclear how far Assad and Sarkis had gone in cutting through the tangle of conflicting interests that have stalled their earlier settlement efforts.