BEIRUT (AFP) — The leader of the Western-backed alliance that won this month's Lebanese parliamentary election, Saad Hariri, has held talks with his defeated rival, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, on the makeup of a new government, an aide said on Friday.
"The discussions focussed on the political situation ... following the elections," the two men said in a joint statement following the Thursday night meeting.
They discussed "different options for a new government" and "agreed to continue their talks."
They "hailed the calm and diplomatic atmosphere reigning in the country and underlined the importance of dialogue, cooperation and dialogue."
The meeting was Hariri's first with Nasrallah since October.
The aide declined for security reasons to say where it was held. Nasrallah has been Israel's most wanted man since the devastating 2006 war his Shiite militants fought with the Jewish state.
Hezbollah and its allies want a continuation of the government of national unity formed last year after deadly clashes between the rival blocs brought Lebanon to the brink of a new civil war.
But Hariri's majority bloc insists it will only accept a unity government if the Hezbollah alliance surrenders the veto powers it enjoys in the outgoing cabinet.
Later on Friday, President Michel Sleiman is due to begin consultations with the rival blocs before naming a new prime minister.
The premiership could go to Hariri four years after the assassination of his father Rafiq, a five-time premier, in a Beirut bombing that propelled him onto the political stage.
In an interview with AFP on Thursday, Hezbollah number two Naim Kassem declined to say whether the movement would support Hariri's nomination.
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »