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Arab League Reports Progress in Lebanon Talks, But No Deal Yet


The head of the Arab League says days of talks aimed at resolving the political standoff in Lebanon have brought the two sides closer to a solution. But more work is required to reach a deal between the government and the opposition. VOA Correspondent Challiss McDonough has more from our Middle East Bureau in Cairo.

Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa says there has been progress toward a deal to end Lebanon's political crisis, but there is still no agreement.

He asks for patience, and says he hopes to have a solution before the end of the month.

He says, "We want to reach a formula of no victor, no vanquished. We want to reach... a win-win situation."

Thousands of opposition protesters have been camping in tents outside the prime minister's office for nearly three weeks, effectively shutting down central Beirut. They vow they will not leave until Prime Minister Fuad Siniora gives in to their demands. The opposition, led by Hezbollah, has been demanding one-third of the Cabinet seats plus one, which would give them a veto over government decisions.

Moussa said there has been what he called movement on several key issues. But he said a number of matters need more effort before an agreement can be reached.

Moussa has spent days shuttling back and forth between the the two sides. The Arab League proposal on the table would expand the Cabinet from 24 ministers to 30, giving the opposition just short of the number of seats to wield the veto they are asking for. One neutral minister would be in the Cabinet. One sticking point appears to be where that minister would come from.

Mr. Siniora has repeatedly rejected the opposition demands, and has accused the opposition of trying to stage a coup.

The rhetoric on both sides of the political divide has grown angrier and more defiant as the standoff has dragged on.

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