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Lebanese leaders to meet, paving way for cabinet session

Published: Updated:

Lebanese leaders will meet on Friday aiming to resolve a political crisis that has paralyzed the government, paving the way for the cabinet to convene for the first time since a deadly June 30 shooting, senior officials said.

The meeting at the presidential palace will group rival Druze politicians Walid Jumblatt who heads the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) and Talal Arslan who heads the Lebanese Democratic Party (LDP) with President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

Jumblatt told Reuters he would attend a reconciliation meeting that would set the stage for cabinet to meet, though the cabinet session had yet to be scheduled.

A second Lebanese official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the meeting was to discuss a reconciliation initiative tabled by Berri.

Two aides of a government minister Saleh al-Gharib, an ally of Arslan, were killed in the June 30 shooting in the Chouf mountains.

Gharib declared the shooting incident an assassination attempt for which his allies held Jumblatt’s party responsible.

Jumblatt’s party says it was an exchange of fire initiated by Gharib’s entourage in which two Jumblatt supporters were also wounded.

The sides have been at odds over which court should deal with the case.

With both sides represented in Hariri’s cabinet, government has been unable to convene as a result, complicating efforts to enact reforms that are urgently needed to steer the country away from financial crisis.