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UN Secretary-General in Lebanon in Effort to Resolve Presidential Crisis


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging Lebanese leaders to put aside their differences and elect a new president by November 23.

Mr. Ban says the election should take place on time and in accordance with constitutional procedures. He says it is imperative for parliament to convene in order to elect a new leader.

The U.N. chief is visiting the Lebanese capital, Beirut, Thursday for talks with members of Lebanon's ruling majority and the Hezbollah-led opposition.

Both sides are disputing who should replace pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud before he steps down on November 24.

Mr. Ban's visit follows a trip by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner earlier this week. On Tuesday, Kouchner said that leaders from Lebanon's influential Christian Maronite Church were drafting a list of possible presidential candidates that could be made public by Thursday.

The presidential voting session in parliament, scheduled for November 21, 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.

Lebanon's government has threatened to use its simple parliamentary majority to elect one of its own members if the factions do not agree on a candidate.

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

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