Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Even when they talk, the heart of Beirut stops

Due to very tight security, the national dialogue that will start tomorrow has brought downtown Beirut to a standstill for the next 10 days.

The government will not compensate local businesses and the only beneficiary so far is the Etoile Suite hotel that is selling its rooms to the participants at prices ranging from $250 to $1,500 per night.

Even the Ministry of Finance, which is located in Riyad El Solh Square, will be shut for the period and its staff will be relocated to other branches.

Politically, the most important preliminary meeting was held last night in Qoraytem between Saad Hariri and Hassan Nasrallah and it lasted seven hours, according to Future TV.

Furthermore, unless the dialogue is fruitful, Walid Jumblat will attend the national conference that will be held in the Parliament for only four days and then he will be leaving for the United States where he is due to meet among others, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and World Bank President, Paul Wolfowitz.

The most important points that will be discussed at the conference will be the removal of President Emile Lahoud, his eventual successor, Hezbollah’s weapons and the relations with Syria.

Most columnists today were pessimistic about the outcome but they added that at least it is a start.


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