Michel Aoun, a key Christian ally of Lebanon's Shiite party Hezbollah, said on Tuesday that Syrian-Saudi efforts had failed to contain a political crisis over a UN probe into the murder of ex-premier Rafik Hariri.
"The Saudi-Syrian initiative has ended with no results. Prime Minister Saad Hariri has not responded to these efforts and we have now reached an impasse," Aoun told a news conference.
"We were informed (of this failure) by our allies in Hezbollah and by all parties who are in contact with the main actors in this initiative, namely Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Saudi King Abdullah."
The statements come after Hariri, son of the slain ex-premier, held talks in New York with King Abdullah, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon over the situation in Lebanon.
For months Lebanon has been at a political impasse over reports the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) is believed to be set to indict Hezbollah members in connection with the 2005 assassination of Rafik Hariri.
'We know efforts are being made'
Hezbollah, which is backed by Syria and Iran, has warned it would not accept such an outcome and accuses The Hague-based STL of being part of a US-Israeli plot.
The group has been pressuring Western-backed Saad Hariri to disavow the tribunal and has warned that Lebanon could be plunged into a full-blown crisis should any of its members be implicated by the STL.
After a meeting between President Michel Suleiman and representatives of Hezbollah and its allies on Tuesday evening, Hezbollah's Al-Manar television reported that the alliance had given Hariri and Suleiman 24 hours to convene a cabinet meeting -- or it would take action on its own. It did not elaborate.
Aoun urged Lebanon's cabinet, which has not met for months over the standoff, to meet "to decide what to do next, together."
Meanwhile the prime minister of Qatar, which has played a key role in the past to help rival Lebanese politicians bridge their differences, said that the latest efforts to contain the crisis were not encouraging.
"We know that efforts are being made... but the last we heard is that they are not very promising," Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr al-Thani said during a joint news conference in Doha with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In 2008 Qatar helped mediate an end to an 18-month standoff between rival factions that ended political paralysis in Lebanon and paved the way for the election of president Suleiman.
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