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Lebanese President Calls for National Dialogue After Blast


Emile Lahoud (File photo)

Lebanon's president has called on pro and anti-Syrian factions within the government to begin immediate talks, following an explosion in a Beirut suburb that has further inflamed the country's political crisis.

Opposition members did not immediately respond to pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud's invitation, which came after an explosion shook a mainly Christian suburb of Beirut early, Saturday.

The blast, which appeared to be caused by an explosive device hidden under a car, injured several people, caused extensive damage and sent panicked residents into the streets.

There was no claim of responsibility, and it was unclear whether there was any political or sectarian motive.

Lebanon has been in political turmoil since the February 14 assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri - which many Lebanese blame on Syria. His murder sparked massive anti-Syrian protests, toppled the Lebanese government and has led to the beginning of Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon.

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