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Germany

Germany Urges Peaceful Solution in Lebanon

Germany called on Friday for all sides in the current conflict in Lebanon to withdraw their fighters and ease the tensions that pushed the country to the brink of a civil war this week.

A fire fighter tries to extinguish burning cars in Beirut, Lebanon

At least 11 people have been killed and more than 20 wounded in Beirut this week

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier phoned Lebanese Premier Fouad Seniora to express his concern at what he termed "the escalation of violence."

"I urgently call on all parties to withdraw their armed factions, lay down their weapons and recognise the Lebanese state's exclusive right to use force," Steinmeier said in a statement.

"The developments of the last few days have shown that a resolution to the political conflict in Lebanon cannot wait any longer."

At least 11 people have been killed and dozens more wounded in the civil unrest that erupted on Thursday after Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said a government crackdown on his Iranian-backed Shiite Muslim group was a declaration of war.

Power vacuum

Steinmeier noted that the parties represented in the Lebanese parliament agreed months ago on a presidential candidate who would be acceptable for all.

"They are now called upon to finally end the vacuum at the top of the state leadership," he said.

The Lebanese parliament has not been able to agree on the make-up of the new cabinet. As a consequence, 18 sessions of parliament to choose a new president have been cancelled.

Germany has repeatedly called for a resolution to the crisis over the election of a Lebanese president and accused Syria of blocking the process and of contributing to rising tensions in the country.

Profound crisis

"The profound crisis in Lebanon can only be resolved with dialogue and in the framework of institutions that are laid out in the constitution," Steinmeier said.

"Part of this dialogue must be an agreement on disarming all the militias in Lebanon," he said.

German government spokesmen said there was constant contact between German diplomats and Lebanese leaders, including Seniora and Lebanese House Speaker Nabih Berri.

Chancellor Merkel, who maintains a close relationship with Seniora, had not had direct contact with the premier "in recent days," Merkel's spokesman Thomas Steg said.

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