Leaders of the right-wing Lebanese Front held a meeting on Tuesday (28 February) to discuss their attitude to retaining the largely Syrian peacekeeping force in Lebanon.
GV INTERIOR Lebanese Front member Charles Maleks' mansion in Rabiyeh, Lebanon
SV Car carrying Suleiman Franjieh arriving, Franjieh alights and walks into building
SV PAN Car carrying Pierre Gamayel arrives, Gamayel salutes guards and is greeted by priest
GV Car carrying Camille Chamoun arrives surrounded by guards, Chamoun out of car and into building
SV INTERIOR Gamayel sitting at head of table PAN TO Chamoun speaking
SV Franjieh folding document
SV PAN FROM Chamoun TO Gamayel during talks
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Background: Leaders of the right-wing Lebanese Front held a meeting on Tuesday (28 February) to discuss their attitude to retaining the largely Syrian peacekeeping force in Lebanon. The Syrians' stay is due to end on the 26 April.
SYNOPSIS: The Lebanese Front meeting was held at a member's home at Rebiyeh, north of the capital, beirut. First to arrive was former Lebanese President Suleiman Franjieh, now one of the leaders of the Front. The other two top men in the organisation's leadership are Camille Chamoun, formerly Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defence, and Pierre Gamayel, currently leader of the Phalangist Party.
The meeting was called to discuss the Front's attitude to a probable extension of the Syrian peacekpeeking force's mandate in Lebanon. The current mandate is due to expire late next month, and the country must decide before then whether to extend the Syrians' stay or not. The 30,000-strong force came into Lebanon about 18 months ago as a final measure to halt more than 20 months of civil war in the country.
The Front's Rabiyeh meeting coincided with a trip by the Lebanese Foreign Minister fuad Butros to Damascus for talks with his Syrian counterpart on the peacekeeping issue. Reuters News Agency reports that Mr. Butros is preparing the way for a full-scale meeting between Lebanese President Sarkis and Syria's President Assad on bilateral relations between the two countries.