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Bush Calls Lebanese PM to Press for Fair Presidential Elections


President Bush called Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora on Monday to urge Lebanon to hold free and fair presidential elections on time, without foreign interference.

White House spokeswoman, Dana Perino told reporters that Mr. Bush reiterated his support for Mr. Siniora and his party. The U.S. president also said Syria should not interfere in Lebanese politics.

Lebanon's parliament has rescheduled a vote on a new president for November 21, three days before the term of outgoing pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud expires.

The session has been postponed three times to give the anti-Syrian government and the pro-Syrian opposition more time to find a consensus candidate to succeed Mr. Lahoud.

On Sunday, the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah warned Lebanon's government not to elect a new president without the support of opposition factions.

Lebanon's government has threatened to use its simple parliamentary majority to elect one of its own members.

Lebanese politicians suggested the possibility in the event that all factions do not agree on a candidate.

Lebanon's Maronite Christian bishops have warned that the nation's political deadlock over presidential elections is threatening national unity.

And U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said rival Lebanese politicians must negotiate in order to avoid what he called "a constitutional void" that militants could exploit.

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

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