France urges new Lebanon cabinet to meet commitments

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France on Tuesday urged Lebanon's new government to honour its international commitments, including backing a court charged with investigating the killing of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri.

"The formation of the Lebanese government... is an important step for Lebanon and the Lebanese," the foreign ministry said in a statement, referring to a new cabinet dominated by militant group Hezbollah and its allies.

"It is essential that the government pursues the implementation of Lebanon's international obligations and commitments, particularly on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and its funding," the French statement added.

Lebanon's new Prime Minister Najib Mikati faces the delicate task of framing his cabinet's policy on the Netherlands-based tribunal (STL), a UN-backed initiative that led to the downfall of the previous government.

The court is widely expected to indict Hezbollah operatives over the killing, a move the Lebanese Shiite militant group has repeatedly warned against.

Lebanon's pro-Western opposition bloc, led by former premier Saad Hariri, has boycotted the new cabinet, slamming it as a tool of Hezbollah and its backer Syria, which has long exerted influence over Lebanese politics.

France said it hopes the new government will "ensure the security and stability of the country with respect for the state of law, the constitution and the neutrality of the state," the statement said.

"It is by the yardstick of these principles and acts that we will judge the new Lebanese government."

© 2011 AFP

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