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Lebanese PM meets Sarkozy amid political crisis

Reuters/Charles Platiau

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri spent half an hour with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday evening. Hariri is heading to Turkey the same evening to discuss the Lebanese political cirsis.

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Lebanese President Michel Sleimane announced Thursday that he will begin consultations on Monday with parliamentary blocs to nominate a new prime minister.

The new prime minister must be a Sunni Muslim in line with tradition.

No information was given about Hariri's meeting with Sarkozy. It was the second time this week that Hariri and Sarkozy have met. Sarkozy stopped in New York on his way back from Washington on Monday to meet Hariri and King Abdallah of Saudi Arabia.

The Lebanese coalition government collapsed on Wednesday when 11 ministers from Shia Hezbollah party announced their resignation. This is the minimum number of resignations required to automatically dissolve the 30-member cabinet.

The move was linked to a dispute over the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which is reportedly set to indict high-ranking Hezbollah operatives in the 2005 assassination of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri, Saad's father.

The resignations came after a Saudi-Syrian bid to defuse tensions over the tribunal failed to find a compromise between the two rival camps.

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