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French FM Warns of Civil War in Lebanon if Political Crisis Continues


France's foreign minister has warned that Lebanon could face civil war if a standoff between the country's rival political factions is not resolved soon.

Minister Bernard Kouchner is in Beirut Saturday, as part of a bid to persuade the country's Western-backed government and the pro-Syrian, Hezbollah-led opposition to resume dialogue.

After meeting with the pro-Syrian parliament speaker, Kouchner told reporters he thinks there has been some progress towards getting the two sides together. But he added that there will be more war if rival Lebanese politicians do not begin discussions soon.

On Friday, Kouchner met with Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora.

Lebanon was plunged into a political crisis last November when five pro-Syrian Cabinet ministers resigned after Mr. Siniora refused to give the opposition veto power.

Opposition activists later began camping out in front of the prime minister's office, calling for his resignation. He has refused to step down.

Kouchner is trying to build on dialogue between representatives of Lebanon's political factions in Paris earlier this month.

Lebanon is a former French colony.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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