March 26/2007

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 8,1-11. while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?"They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She replied, "No one, sir." Then Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go, (and) from now on do not sin any more."

Latest News Reports From The Daily Star For March 26/07
Rice calls for 'parallel' talks with Palestinians, Israelis
Hizbullah: Israel is alone in violating 1701
Siniora, Lahoud jockey for position ahead of summit
Sending two delegations to summit 'risky,' Sfeir warns
Nassib Lahoud calls for ratification of Hariri court
Druze Council holds monthly meeting
Bahia Hariri meets Fatah commander in Lebanon
Nigerian gunmen free Lebanese, Indian captives
Lebanese merchants in Kinshasa decry looting of stores but vow to stay put
The EU's experience has lessons for Lebanon
Torbay wins Maronite League presidency, mandate to expand scope of charity work

Latest News Reports From miscellaneous sources For March 26/07
Crisis combination in the Middle East-BBC News
Rice sees "parallel" talks with Israel, Palestinians-Reuters
Rice: Israel, PA must set common agenda to end conflict Ha'aretz
Capture of sailors steps up nuclear tensions-Financial Times 
Iran prepared for nuclear talks without preconditions -official-RIA Novosti
Hezbollah: Israel admits defeat-PRESS TV
Jumblat: 'One Long Battle'-Naharnet
Lebanese, Indian Hostages Released In Nigeria-Naharnet
Rice urges Egypt to reform its democracy-AP

U.N. approves new Iran sanctions- AP
Israel tells UN chief Hezbollah and Syria jeopardizing Lebanon ...San Diego Union Tribune
Peretz to UN Chief: Lebanon Ceasefire is in Jeopardy-Naharnet

Lebanon's PM to set deadline for international tribunal-Ya Libnan
Leader of Lebanon's al-Qaeda cell pledges to strike America again-Scotsman
Sunni militants target
Gaza creeps in after Lebanon-Ha'aretz
Lebanon,s Ironic Democracy-Asharq Alawsat
support of Nasrallah wanes-Ynetnews

Jumblat: 'One Long Battle'
Druze MP Walid Jumblat has said the political conflict in Lebanon seemed to be "one long battle" and warned against a "new war during this summer." "The battle is long, but we are close to the truth through the international tribunal," Jumblat said after receiving visitors in Mukhtara on Saturday. His remarks were published by the daily Al Mustaqbal on Sunday. The tribunal would try suspects in the 2005 assassination or ex-Premier Rafik Hariri and related crimes. "The noose around the criminals' neck has begun to tighten," Jumblat warned with respect to the latest report released by U.N. chief investigator Serge Brammertz in which he has narrowed the possible motive for Hariri's killing to his political activities. Beirut, 25 Mar 07, 06:55

Sending two delegations to summit 'risky,' Sfeir warns
By Maroun Khoury -Daily Star correspondent
Monday, March 26, 2007
BKIRKI: Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir warned Sunday that for Lebanon to send two separate delegations to the Arab summit in Riyadh on March 28-29 was "risky" that could have "detrimental effects" on the country. "Lebanese are once again divided as if there are two 'Lebanons' and this is more dangerous than anything for a nation," Sfeir said during his Sunday sermon. The mass this week honored Christian fraternities in Lebanon and was held at the open-air altar of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Bkirki. Sfeir said "constitutional institutions" are pitted one against the other, making for "a clearly unhealthy" situation. President Emile Lahoud and Prime Minister Fouad Siniora are each expected to lead a delegation to the summit.
Sfeir urged his congregation to make "multiply prayers and sacrifices" in order to avoid what he called "eminent strife" and to make Lebanon prosper.
"We are deeply in need of collaboration and unity among the Lebanese, in order to face the prevailing crisis," the patriarch said.
Separately, senior Shiite cleric Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah sent an appeal to Arab leaders and people on Sunday, three days before the summit, urging leaders to shun away from personal interests and think of "the general welfare of the Arabs."
Fadlallah said that the United States was working on creating trouble in each and every Arab state "in order to busy various Arab countries in solving internal issues and overlook the overall concerns of the Arab world." "Recent developments on the Lebanese political scene once again demonstrate that the US administration works on hindering any sort of solutions to the three-month long deadlock," Fadlallah said, referring to an opposition sit-in Downtown that began December 1. In order for the summit to "bear fruit," he said, and in order for "decisive and efficient" resolutions to come about, Arab countries ought to "break down invisible barriers set up by the US between us."

Nassib Lahoud calls for ratification of Hariri court
Daily Star: Monday, March 26, 2007
The head of the Democratic Renewal Movement, former MP Nassib Lahoud, said in a statement issued Saturday that no consensus was likely to be reached between Lebanon's divided political camps if the draft law for the establishment of an international court to try suspects in the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri were not ratified. Lahoud added that it was crucial that the establishment of the tribunal "not be politicized." The former MP added that it was difficult for the ruling majority to grant the opposition a blocking minority in the next government while President Emile Lahoud was still in his post "because then the country will be totally paralyzed."

Torbay wins Maronite League presidency, mandate to expand scope of charity work
By Hani M. Bathish -Daily Star staff
Monday, March 26, 2007
BEIRUT: A high turnout for Maronite League elections on Sunday saw 90 percent of the 637 registered league members vote for a new president, vice president and 15-member board. Ballots were cast at the Maronite Council building in Karantina. Voters gave the new league president, Joseph Torbay, the Consensus and Modernization list candidate, the go-ahead to expand the league's charitable endeavors in support of the Maronite Church. Torbay won a majority 378 votes. Torbay's opponent, Emir Hares Shehab, the Maronite Renewal list candidate who did not want to see the league's role as a political pressure group and think tank expanded, received 200 votes.
Former Ambassador Abdullah Abu Habib, Torbay's running mate and the new league vice president, obtained 353 votes, while his opponent, Antoine Barakat, Shehab's running mate for the vice presidency, received 219 votes.
Most of Torbay's list was voted onto the league's board, except for retired Brigadier Michel Bowairi. Professor Khalil Karam, from Shehab's list, was voted onto the league's board in his place. The new members of the board are: Badawi Abu Deeb, Hikmat Abu Zeid, Emile Abi Nader, Dr. Francois Bassil, Antoine Boustani, Dr. Abdo Girgis, Samir Hobeika, Alia Bertie Zein, Jean Silwen, Antoine Showeiri, Pierre Daher, Fadi Abboud, Fouad Aoun and Shawqi Qazan and Professor Khalil Karam. Abu Habib told The Daily Star that his and Torbay's was a victory for all Maronites.
"Today the Maronites have proved that they are democratic and can run free and fair elections with goodwill in a fashion comparable to that in the West," he said. "This is also a victory for Bkirki as we will be supporting Bkirki in uniting the Maronite position, which is in the best interest of Lebanon. Our constants are the constants of Bkirki, and this will serve to uplift Lebanon from its current crisis."
The polling station opened at 9 a.m. on Sunday, amid a heavy security presence. By noon 375 votes had already been cast. Moments before the poles closed at 3 p.m., an estimated 590 votes had been cast.
League member and Lebanese Forces MP Georges Adwan said his party had supported the elections from day one. "This democracy is ideal to electing our representatives in all areas so we can choose the best," he said. "The Lebanese Forces has no official position [on the candidates] but left it to each of its members to choose who they felt was best," Adwan added. "The league is not a forum for political expression but rather a forum for an exchange of opinions." League member and Reform and Change bloc MP Neamatallah Abi Nasr said that the real winner was democracy.
"Democracy has emerged victorious among the Maronites and we hope it is applied it in all our institutions, creating new hope. We have proven that the Maronites have a strong democratic tradition that allows them to play the national role expected of them to unite the Lebanese around sovereignty, freedom and independence," Abi Nasr said. Former MP and league member Ghattas Khoury said the league was a tool for unification.
"The role of the Maronite Leagues has to be one that unifies the Maronite position for the good of Lebanon," he said.
There were two ballot boxes at the polling station, one for league president and vice president and another for the 15-member board. Results were posted late on Sunday evening.

The EU's experience has lessons for Lebanon
'Europe built a big dream and achieved this dream with humble steps'
By Hani M. Bathish -Daily Star staff
Monday, March 26, 2007
Editor's note: This is the last in a series of articles on the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome and the European Union's conception. This article deals with the role of the EU for the past 50 years in peacekeeping, especially through its leadership of the UNIFIL, and its support for Lebanon, the role of youth and the signing of the Berlin Declaration on Sunday, March 25.
BEIRUT: The signing of the Treaty of Rome on March 25, 1957, by the six founding members of the then European Economic Community (Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg), laid the foundation for one European family. Fifty years later, the European Union is growing closer together, adding more members and cementing a unity based on the common values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and equality. The EU's 50th anniversary motto, "Together since 1957," expresses simply the idea behind the union, which is not just a political, economic and geographical amalgamation, but one that brings people of diverse cultures, languages and traditions closer together, stressing cooperation and solidarity.
The singular historic achievement of this marriage of nations has been the eradication of all wars among union members for over half a century. The EU's expansion to 27 countries has played a major role in ensuring an enduring peace on the continent resulting in the EU becoming a force for peace in the world. In Lebanon, that force for peace is seen in the makeup of the beefed-up United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), whose soldiers are largely drawn from European countries. Among these countries are Italy, the single largest contributor and current commander of the UN force; France, which previously led the force; and Germany, which has a sizable naval contingent. From an insignificant strategic player two decades ago, the EU has moved into sensitive areas of war and peace, where EU nations have pooled resources to launch peacekeeping missions in Africa, Lebanon and the Balkans. To mark this 50-year milestone, the Delegation of the European Commission in Beirut organized an informal gathering for journalists last Friday at the Time Out Cafe in Achrafieh to discuss the European experience and its applicability to Lebanon.
The "political salon" hosted by the delegation included, as main speakers, the head of the delegation, Patrick Laurent; the dean of the Political Science Institute at Saint Joseph University, Fadia Kiwan; the acting charges d'affaires at the German Embassy, Irene Blanc; and a political researcher, Karam Karam. Laurent spoke of how six European countries, including former enemies France and Germany, came together to plant the seeds of union in 1957. He stressed the vital role played at the time "by statesmen who refused to see war return, who planned for the future and took risks to achieve it."
Laurent called on the Lebanese to search for the ties that bind them, reminding the country that the imposing structure of the European Union was built steadily and over time. Finding common economic ground is always easier than finding common political ground, he added.
Kiwan agreed.
"Europe built a big dream and achieved this dream with humble steps," she said, adding that Lebanon differs from Europe in that it lies in a "hostile region," while Europe rebuilt itself over decades of peace and benefited from the Marshall Plan. Kiwan said that during the process of building a national identity Lebanon has posed questions that divide its people rather than unite them. Lebanon has also failed to adopt cooperative policies, a policy adopted by wealthy European countries toward poorer member states, assisting in their development, she added.
"Economics cannot be a common unifying element among the Lebanese before a minimum of political agreement is reached on the pivotal issues," Kiwan said. Blanc said that while Germany was defeated during World War II, today it is a partner in a powerful and respected bloc of nations. She distinguished, however, between reconciliation between nations and reconciliation among the people of one country, adding that German society took 30 years after the war ended to start to reconcile its past.
Laurent stressed that the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, launched in Barcelona 11 years ago, began a "useful dialogue" among Mediterranean countries, but added that two countries that did not take full advantage of this partnership were Syria and Lebanon. However, he said that Lebanon had now begun to deal with this issue better than it had in the past.
The Barcelona Declaration, signed in 1995, was aimed at promoting conditions likely to develop neighborly relations among Mediterranean partner countries. Signatories agreed to accelerate the pace of sustainable socioeconomic development, improve the living conditions of their populations, increase employment levels and reduce the development gap in the Euro-Mediterranean region, as well as encourage regional cooperation and integration.
The partners also agreed on the progressive establishment of a free-trade area, the implementation of appropriate economic cooperation and a substantial increase in the EU's financial assistance to its partners.
European Union leaders adopted a 50th anniversary declaration in Berlin on Sunday that set 2009 as the deadline for preparing a new treaty to replace its rejected constitution.
The Berlin Declaration was signed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and the president of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Poettering.
The word "constitution" was not mentioned in the two-page document at the request of many of the 27 member states, in particular Britain, the Czech Republic and Poland. The draft constitution, designed to allow an enlarged bloc to operate, was rejected in referendums in The Netherlands and France in 2005. France and The Netherlands see enlarging the EU as "diluting Europe's identity," while Britain and Poland see it as an opportunity to export democracy and prosperity.
In the declaration signed at the German Historical Museum on Sunday, the member nations said, "We are united in our aim of placing the European Union on a renewed common basis before the European Parliament elections in 2009."
The document starts, "We, the citizens of the European Union," and praises the achievements of peace and stability in Europe, and stresses the fights against terrorism and racism, as well as combating global warming, as major challenges. It also outlines successes like the introduction of a common currency and border-free travel.
Merkel said in a speech before the signing that Europe could take none of its cherished ideals of peace and freedom, democracy and the rule of law for granted, and urged the bloc to come to grips with its institutional crisis.
"[The EU] must ensure that even with 27 or more member states its institutions function efficiently, democratically and in a way which citizens understand. Much is at stake," the chancellor said. She said her experience growing up in communist East Germany had shaped her idea of freedom and justice in Europe. "I never thought that I would be able to freely travel to the rest [of the continent] before I became a pensioner," said Merkel, 52, "but my own experience shows that nothing has to remain the way it is."
Barroso urged EU leaders to tackle the constitution issue soon, warning that Europe risked falling behind the rest of the world if it did not.
"A Europe of results demands efficient, democratic and coherent institutions. We must equip the European Union for globalization," Barroso said.
After the signing, the heads of state and government posed for a photograph at the Brandenburg Gate in a symbol of unity near where the Berlin Wall once divided Germany. The leaders then held a working lunch, which focused on the future of Europe, while street festivals were held throughout Berlin. Many younger Europeans who had come to the German capital were still recovering from a night of concerts, exhibitions and clubbing. Commemorations for the 50th anniversary were held across Europe with concerts and other, mainly symbolic, events.
Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi on Friday pleaded for the European Union to have a constitution in place before the bloc's next elections in 2009.
"For us, completing the process of reviving Europe before 2009 is an imperative that we cannot ignore," Prodi said at a ceremony outside the Italian Senate to mark the anniversary. "It would be unthinkable to vote in the next European elections without having first built a clear and functioning institutional framework," added Prodi, who was European Commission president from 1999 to 2004.
"The mourning and pause for reflection" following the failure of the 2005 referendums on the EU Constitution is over, Prodi said. The EU should "go forward" with the same text signed by all 25 member states in 2004 and ratified by 18 of them, he argued.
Prodi's successor, Barroso, spoke briefly and said the bloc's 50th anniversary is an occasion to turn toward the future and inspire citizens with a new vision for Europe. He also said the EU would have to solve the problem of the constitutional treaty. Under the motto "Your Europe - your future," an EU Youth Summit was held in Rome from March 23 to 25. More than 200 young Europeans came together over the three days to debate the future direction of the EU and send a message to its leaders.
The event was broadcast live over the Internet on Sunday. The first ever Rome EU Youth summit organized jointly by the EU and the European Youth Forum aimed to involve young people and youth bodies in the ongoing debate on the future shape of the EU. Preparations for the youth summit started in January with a meeting in Brussels, where six issues were chosen for discussion in Rome: The future of the EU treaty, the EU's social and economic model, sustainable development, the EU's role in a globalized world, democracy and civil society, and youth and education.
The summit's conclusions and a message on the future of the EU were conveyed to European leaders gathering in Berlin for an informal meeting commemorating the anniversary. A roundtable debate gave participants a chance to put their views directly to representatives of EU institutions.
"This summit will offer an unprecedented occasion to discuss this European Union 'on the move,'" said Margot Wallstrom, the vice president of the European Commission. The EU is the world's largest free-trade area, enjoys some of the world's highest living standards, a single currency and a common standard of environmental protection.
All citizens living in the 27-nation bloc have a right to the burgundy EU passport, and most of them enjoy borderless travel rights between EU member states. The 10 nations that joined the EU in 2004 are to be included in the Schengen visa system, after which there will be no land border checks between EU members, by December 31, 2007. Ireland and Britain remain outside of the scheme.
The EU promotes freedom of movement for goods, services, people and capital, which Brussels says has led to around 2.5 million new jobs since 1993 and more than $1 trillion in extra wealth. Consumers enjoy duty-free cross-border shopping rights across the single market.
Europeans in 13 member states have used a single currency since 2002, with the aim of lowering prices, bolstering the bloc's economic standing among global trade powers and making business and trade more cost-effective. While some say the euro has not led to cheaper consumer goods, EU statistics show that big-ticket items like cars and stereos have come down in price due to better price clarity and low euro-area inflation.
After the September 11, 2001, attacks, EU governments agreed to new sweeping cross-border coordination to hunt down terror cells and prevent attacks in Europe. Members agreed on new European arrest and evidence warrants, and EU-wide rules on retaining data such as telephone call records, key in anti-terror probes.
The World War II had ended less than a dozen years before the forebear of the EU was created. Hunger was still a recent memory. The Brussels bureaucracy created a farm system so effective that containing excess surpluses of wheat, butter and wine became one of the bloc's biggest challenges within a few decades. It remains so to this day. EU farm subsidies, which also aim to undercut cheaper imports, have met with strong objections from trading partners, notably from developing African nations, Brazil and India, which have derided the handouts as unfair and protectionist.
Thanks to joining efforts in economic and political areas, the EU has increasingly found a voice on the world stage, especially in trade, where the bloc negotiates as one voice at world trade talks.

Rice calls for 'parallel' talks with Palestinians, Israelis
Compiled by Daily Star staff -Monday, March 26, 2007
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice set out a new approach Sunday to reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, saying she would pursue "parallel" talks with the two parties as Saudi Arabia joined Egypt in refusing to amend a 2002 initiative. "Now we are in a situation in which I think a bilateral approach, in which I talk in parallel to the parties ... is the best way," Rice said at a news conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
She said she hoped to find a common agenda between the two sides that would eventually lead to the creation of a Palestinian state.
"You need to prepare the ground well, you need to spend time with the parties. You need to understand what is tolerable [for] each side," Rice said.
"I think it can help all of us to have a destination in mind," Rice said, but acknowledged that direct negotiations between the sides are unlikely in the current climate. Abbas said he talked with Rice about holding more meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, adding: "All these meetings are part of the bilateral relations with Israel and the future vision that we are all seeking and working toward."
Two senior aides to Abbas said the president and Rice explored practical ways of getting "moderate" Arab states involved in peace efforts.
One idea discussed by Abbas and Rice is to appoint a committee at next week's Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia, said advisers Yasser Abed Rabbo and Saeb Erekat. The group, likely to be headed by Saudi Arabia, would lead efforts to revive the 2002 Arab peace initiative.
Such a committee could then work with members of the "Quartet" of Mideast media-tors as well as the Palestinians
and Israel, "as a form of political umbrella," Abed Rabbo said. Israeli government spokeswoman Miri Eisin said that Israel might welcome such an Arab role. "The prime minister has said in the past that the involvement of moderate Arab countries is a positive idea as a stabilizing factor in the region, as opposed to extremist countries setting the agenda," she said.
She said bringing in moderate countries is something Israel supports as a "general notion."Rice planned to see Israeli Olmert later in the day and again on Monday, after returning from Amman and a second round of talks with Abbas in Jordan. She has been touring the Middle East, trying to persuade Arab governments to make a peace plan they ratified in 2002 more attractive to Israel by adding what she calls "active diplomacy" - seen as code for early contacts with Israelis. Egypt, which Rice visited before flying on to Tel Aviv, said Arab states were ready to negotiate with Israel if the Jewish state accepted the 2002 peace initiative as a starting point.
But Arab states, meeting in Riyadh on March 28 and 29, will not amend their initiative, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu al-Gheit said.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal on Sunday echoed Egypt's position. "There will be no amendment to the Arab peace initiative. We have said this 20 times before in the past and this is the last time I will say this," said Prince Saud. Hamas' political chief, Khaled Meshaal, in talks with Prince Saud, said that Hamas "will support the Arab consensus and will not differ with the Palestinian official position," an Arab diplomat told AFP.
Earlier Sunday, Abbas met with UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who said the time is "not yet fully ripe" to meet with officials from Hamas.
Ban is scheduled to meet Olmert Monday. He said he would urge the Israeli leader to release frozen Palestinian funds, ease travel restrictions in Palestinian areas and halt settlement activity in the West Bank. - Agencies

Hizbullah: Israel is alone in violating 1701
Peretz says release of prisoners key to implementation of resolution
Compiled by Daily Star staff
Monday, March 26, 2007
Israel is alone in violating UN Security Council Resolution 1701, a spokesperson for Hizbullah said Sunday in response to Israel's claim that the continued captivity of two captured Israeli soldiers and alleged arms shipments to the resistance are endangering the implementation of the resolution.
"Israeli officials are continuing to make these incorrect statements about Lebanon, but they are the ones [violating] Resolution 1701, especially with their overflights," Hussein Rahal told The Daily Star. Rahal was responding to comments made by Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz Saturday to Ban Ki-moon during the UN chief's first visit to Israel. Peretz, greeting Ban at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, said a main subject of talks would be the status of Resolution 1701. The resolution authorized the deployment of a 15,000-strong UN peacekeeping force in South Lebanon to help the government here patrol the South and establish a weapons-free buffer zone between Lebanon and Israel.
It also calls for a halt in arms shipments to Hizbullah and the "unconditional release" of the two Israeli soldiers captured in the cross-border raid that preceded the summer 2006 war. "This is an unequivocal demand by the state of Israel," said Peretz. "We see it as the key to continuing the precise implementation of Resolution 1701."
Peretz added that a failure to enforce the arms embargo "could cause the gravest damage, to the possibility of implementing the resolution and upset the stability existing today in South Lebanon." Ban has criticized Israel and Lebanon for violating the resolution, noting an increase of Israeli military overflights of its northern neighbor in February and early March. The former commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, Major General Alain Pellegrini, said in February that overflights occurred "on a daily basis."Ban, who is expected to visit Lebanon on March 30, suggested an independent mission examine the monitoring of the border amid Israeli allegations of Syrian arms smuggling to Hizbullah. The Syrian government has threatened to close its border with Lebanon if such a force is deployed there. Also Sunday, the Israeli government officially named last summer's war in Lebanon "The Second Lebanon War," after intense lobbying from relatives of those killed in the conflict who wanted the inscription of the word "war" on their loved ones' headstones. - With agencies

Siniora, Lahoud jockey for position ahead of summit
Dual delegations may take part - or not
By Rym Ghazal -Daily Star staff
Monday, March 26, 2007
BEIRUT: Prime Minister Fouad Siniora will head a delegation to the Arab League summit this week that will include acting Foreign Minister Tarek Mitri and Economy and Trade Minister Sami Haddad, but President Emile Lahoud has said the premier's group will only be considered "guests" at the event.
Mitri left for Riyadh on Sunday to participate in preparations for the summit. He told reporters in the Gulf kingdom that the Siniora delegation was "an official delegation and not just guests."Mitri was responding to a statement issued on Saturday by Lahoud saying that "the Riyadh summit is for kings, heads of state and princes ... anyone else coming are just guests."
Sources close to Lahoud, who will announce his own delegation on Monday, said that he will include resigned Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh and resigned Environment Minister Yaacoub Sarraf. "We presented a memo to the summit that was agreed upon by the Lebanese government and that outlined the country's policies and what was agreed upon in the National Dialogue and [Siniora's] seven-point plan," Mitri told reporters at Beirut Airport prior to his departure. Asked whether there was still hope that a "united" delegation would attend the summit, Mitri said: "The summit starts on Wednesday, and I doubt anything will change by then."
In an interview with the Saudi newspaper Oqaz on Sunday, Lahoud said that "Lebanon's statement at the summit will stress the importance of collaboration and Arab unity."Lahoud added that he hoped the summit would be "an opportunity where solutions to regional crises get discussed."
He also praised Lebanon's "historic" relationships with Syria and Saudi Arabia, but criticized France and the United States, saying, "their role in Lebanon is pitting one side against the other."Two of the main steps needed to end the political deadlock in Lebanon were "forming a national unity government with representation from all the Lebanese sects and changing the Lebanese electoral law," he said.
Meanwhile, Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir warned during his Sunday mass that sending two separate delegations to the Arab summit was a "risky" decision that was likely to have "detrimental effects" on Lebanon. "The Lebanese are once again divided as if there are two Lebanons, and this is more dangerous than anything for a nation," Sfeir said. Constitutional institutions such as the Cabinet and Parliament are being pitted against each other, he added, saying such a situation was "overtly unhealthy." The March 14 Forces also released a statement on Saturday, in which they claimed to be the first coalition to call for national dialogue in Lebanon and reiterated their "determination to go on with dialogue until a solution is reached."
It stressed that the ruling coalition would "not accept" any changes to the draft for an international tribunal to try those behind the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri, nor would they accept a 19+11 formula for a unity government. "We will not accept 19+11 as that would mean that we have to give up our duty toward the Lebanese people," it said. In response to the statement, Speaker Nabih Berri told An-Nahar in remarks published Sunday that such comments did not "increase my optimism." "Despite everything, I am ready to meet with Sheikh [Saad] Hariri at any minute," he was quoted as saying.
Berri also denied allegations by officials in the March 14 camp that a meeting had been held in Damascus among Amal, Hizbullah and Syrian officials on stalling the tribunal. Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea told the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyasa that the 19+11 formula, a key demand of the opposition, was "not even an option.""Giving into the demand would mean hampering the last constitutional institution in the county," Geagea said.
Hizbullah MP Mohammed Raad said the March 14 Forces "have no choice" but to give in to the opposition demands.

U.N. approves tougher sanctions on Iran
By ALEXANDRA OLSON, Associated Press Writer
UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. Security Council unanimously voted Saturday to impose new sanctions against Iran for its refusal to stop enriching uranium a move intended to show Tehran that defiance will leave it increasingly isolated.
The moderately tougher sanctions include banning Iranian arms exports, and freezing the assets of 28 people and organizations involved in Iran's nuclear and missile programs.
About a third of those are linked to the Revolutionary Guard, an elite military corps.
The United States is "very pleased by the strength of this resolution" after two years of diplomacy, said R. Nicholas Burns, undersecretary for political affairs at the State Department.
In December, the 15-member Security Council ordered all countries to stop supplying Iran with materials and technology that could contribute to its nuclear and missile programs. It also ordered a freeze on assets of 10 key Iranian companies and 12 individuals related to those programs.
"It's a significant international rebuke to Iran and it's a significant tightening of international pressure on Iran," Burns said of the new sanctions. "We do believe it's going to leave Iran even more isolated than it has been."
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki rejected the sanctions and said Iran had no intention of suspending its enrichment program.
"The world must know and it does that even the harshest political and economic sanctions or other threats are far too weak to coerce the Iranian nation to retreat from their legal and legitimate demands," Mottaki told the Security Council after the vote. "Suspension is neither an option nor a solution."
Mottaki made the trip instead of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who claimed he canceled his appearance because the U.S. failed to deliver his visa in time. The U.S. said it had issued the visa promptly.
Raising tensions, Iran detained 15 British sailors and marines Friday in what it said were Iranian territorial waters near Iraq. The British sailors and marines had been on a mission to search for smugglers in Iraqi waters.
The six world powers that drafted the new resolution spent Friday trying to overcome objections from several council members, reflecting concerns that anything short of consensus would weaken efforts to rein in Iran's nuclear defiance.
There were several minor concessions but no changes to the key sanctions agreed upon last week by the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany.
The new sanctions already a compromise between the stronger measures favored by the United States and the Europeans and the softer approach advocated by Russian and China are considered modest. The ban on exports is among the harshest measures, but many of Iran's arms sales may not be affected because they are illicitly sent to militant groups like Lebanon's Hezbollah and Shiite militias in Iraq.
Still, world powers hoped that approving the resolution quickly and unanimously would signal that Iran will face stricter sanctions each time it ignores a Security Council deadline to suspend uranium enrichment, a process that can be used to produce nuclear energy or nuclear weapons.
"This resolution sends an unambiguous signal to the government and people of Iran ... that the path of nuclear proliferation by Iran is not one that the international community can accept," said British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry.
Iran responded to the first set of sanctions in December by expanding enrichment.
Tehran has offered to provide guarantees that its nuclear program won't be diverted toward weapons, as the U.S. and some of its allies fear.
Iranian leaders kept up their defiant rhetoric in the days leading up to the vote, with Ahmadinejad calling the Security Council illegitimate and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei suggesting Iran would pursue nuclear activities outside international regulations if faced with more sanctions.
The new resolution calls for voluntary restrictions on travel by the individuals subject to sanctions, on arms sales to Iran, and on new financial assistance or loans to the Iranian government.
It asks the International Atomic Energy Agency to report back in 60 days on whether Iran has suspended enrichment and warns Iran could face further measures if it does not. But it also says all sanctions will be suspended if Iran halts enrichment and makes clear that Tehran can still accept a package of economic incentives and political rewards offered last year if it complies with the council's demands.
After the latest resolution met with surprising resistance from several elected Security Council members, a reference was inserted to a past resolution from the IAEA calling for the Middle East to be free of weapons of mass destruction. Indonesia and Qatar had wanted the council to make that appeal outright, but that would have had implications for Israel, a U.S. ally widely believed to possess nuclear weapons, though it has never officially acknowledged it.
Associated Press Writer John Heilprin contributed to this report from Washington.