Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says growing sectarian tensions in Lebanon are threatening to affect the entire Middle East.

Speaking during a day-long trip to Beirut Wednesday, Mr. Erdogan said Turkey is ready to mediate talks between the country's western-backed government and the Hezbollah-led opposition. He said dialogue is the only way to resolve the crisis.

The prime minister Wednesday met with some government officials and with Turkish military engineers deployed to Lebanon with United Nations peacekeeping forces.

His trip follows a visit by the chief of the Arab League in late December, who warned that rival political leaders are not talking to each other.

Hezbollah protesters have maintained a sit-in protest in central Beirut since December 1, demanding a new unity government with more Hezbollah representation. Prime Minister Siniora, who has the support of Western nations and Saudi Arabia, has so far rejected demands to step down or form a new government.

Shi'ite support for Hezbollah increased following the 34-day war last year between the militant group and Israel.

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