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French Foreign Minister in Beirut for Talks on Presidential Vote


French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner is in Lebanon Tuesday for talks on ending the political crisis in the country.

Officials say Kouchner is expected to meet with Lebanese political leaders, as well as opposition and religious figures.

The French foreign minister has led previous mediation efforts to forge an agreement between both sides.

His visit comes ahead of Friday's scheduled session of the Lebanese parliament, during which lawmakers are expected to elect a successor to pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud, who stepped down on November 23.

The vote has been postponed six times to give the pro-Western government and pro-Syrian opposition more time to agree on a candidate.

On Sunday, Lebanon's governing coalition formally nominated the country's army chief, General Michel Suleiman, to be the next president.

For General Suleiman to be elected, the Lebanese parliament must first amend the country's constitution, which bars senior public servants from seeking the presidency until two years after resigning from office.

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