NNA - Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri attended today a lunch hosted in his honor in Zaytuna Bay by former MP Mohammad Kabbani and attended by Minister Nohad Mashnouk and MPs: Fuad Makhzoumi, Faisal Sayegh, Nadim Gemayel, Adnan Trabulsi, Toni Pano, Nicolas Sahnaoui, Mohamed Khawaja, Jean Talouzian and Paula Yacoubian.
Prime Minister Hariri was asked: Are you capable of bringing together all factions in a national unity government? And Speaker Berri is asking why are you moving slowly
He replied: I am entitled to a vacation. I went to see my family and now we "opened the turbo" to form a government as soon as possible. And we will certainly gather everyone, it is my duty to do so, and I am optimistic and within days we can accomplish all these things.
Question: Are the obstacles external or internal?
Hariri: There are no external obstacles but internal ones, but they are solvable.
Question: Berri says that the formation does not have a time limit, and this is a loophole in the constitution. Did you set a deadline for yourself or are you taking it slowly?
Hariri: No, I am not taking it slowly, but I do not know why we want to hurry things up. First, I was designated three weeks ago, and second there was the holy month of Ramadan and then the Eid. We are consulting with all the political parties. There are some obstacles, but we solve them through dialogue and time. I wish that the country had been, in my absence or during the holidays, quieter on the media level so we could form a government.
Question: Is there a difficulty regarding the "Lebanese Forces" representation in the formation process?
Hariri: No difficulty, neither with the Lebanese Forces nor with others. These things happen in any formation of a government. This is normal, but I am optimistic. God willing, we will end the matter within days. We should not exaggerate things because they are not really huge.
Question: How would you describe your meeting with Minister Gebran Bassil?
Hariri: He said it was a positive meeting, I say the same.
Question: Will you accept the nomination of Sunni ministers from outside the Future movement?
Hariri: We talk to everyone, and when I have a proposal, I will go to the President of the Republic, and that may be tomorrow.
Question: It is said that the Free Patriotic Movement demands seven seats, and five for the President of the Republic. Will the government be able to meet all these demands?
Hariri: We are conducting negotiations, and everyone will be satisfied. Everyone knows that we will form a government of thirty ministers, who should represent the largest number of political blocs. As you know, in any negotiations, everyone starts with a high ceiling, and then negotiations are conducted, I am not afraid.
Question: Is it said that Saudi Arabia has no interest in a government at present because it is betting on regional developments?
Hariri: Who says that? I always hear this talk and then I hear a different talk. I went to Saudi Arabia and they are keen that the government be formed yesterday before today, so this issue is not true. No one spoke to me about it.
Question: Do you set a time limit for yourself to form a government?
Hariri: I am working as fast as possible.
Question: Can the blockade on the Lebanese Forces lead you to apologize from forming the government?
Hariri: No one is besieging anyone and no one is putting a veto on anyone. As I tell you: Those who go to the negotiations put a high ceiling.
Question: There is no veto on a sovereign portfolio for the Lebanese Forces?
Hariri: There is no veto from me and the Free Patriotic Movement says the same thing. Thus what I am saying is that we have to take things positively and I hope the media will also be positive because the country cannot afford tensions and I am confident that everyone is cooperating.
Hariri received this afternoon at the Center House the Saudi Charge d'affaires in Lebanon Waleed Bukhari who said after the meeting that he congratulated Premier Hariri on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr and discussed with him the situation.
Hariri also met with Caretaker Minister of Finance Ali Hassan Khalil in the presence of Minister Ghattas Khoury. He also received the leader of Marada Movement Sleiman Frangie accompanied by Minister Youssef Finianos in the presence of Minister Ghattas Khoury. He then met with MP Wael Abu Faour. Hariri also met with Minister Melhem Riachi.
Discussions focused on the general situation and the formation of the government. -- Press release
Source: National News Agency