A statement released yesterday by the “Friends of Lebanon” called for the immediate election of a president without prior conditions and the establishment of a national unity government. Lebanon is still without a president after 18 failed attempts to hold elections since November last year. In recent days, the capital, Beirut, has seen deadly violence on the streets between pro- and anti-Government militias. The Friends’ statement added that, “We remain deeply concerned by the situation in Lebanon,” and called for the immediate cessation of violence, the withdrawal of gunmen from the streets, the unblocking of roads and the reopening of Beirut International Airport. The group of ministers and representatives also talked yesterday by phone with a Lebanese Government minister. 13 May 2008A group that includes foreign ministers and representatives from the European Union and the Arab League, as well as United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, has welcomed an Arab League initiative to send a delegation to Lebanon to promote dialogue in the fractured country.

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