Lebanese leaders delay defence strategy talks

BEIRUT- Rival Lebanese politicians have postponed to June 17 talks that were set to resume next week on a national defence strategy, the government said in a statement on Friday.
It did not specify the reason for the two-week delay which comes at a time of heightened tension in the region over allegations that the militant group Hezbollah was stockpiling sophisticated weapons smuggled through Syria.

Lebanese tourists look at a Hezbollah anti-aircraft gun.
Lebanese tourists look at a Hezbollah anti-aircraft gun.
The Shiite party, which is backed by Iran and has two ministers in the current cabinet, has repeatedly warned the government that its arsenal is not open to discussion.
The defence strategy talks, which were launched in 2006, have been repeatedly adjourned because of successive political crises and the thorny issue of Hezbollah's weapons.
The talks are also focused on the weapons of Palestinian factions outside the country's 12 refugee camps.
Israel estimates Hezbollah's arsenal at some 40,000 rockets, a significant rise from the group's 14,000 rockets in 2006, when a 34-day conflict between the two enemies killed 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

Saturday, May 29th 2010

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