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Moscow hails Lebanon peace deal

MOSCOW, May 16 (RIA Novosti) - Russia welcomes the deal reached between Lebanon's Western-backed government and the Hezbollah-led opposition, and mediated by the Arab League, Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

The sides agreed on Thursday to a new national dialogue to elect a president and form a unity government. Hezbollah agreed to end its blockade of Beirut airport and seaport and withdraw its gunmen from the streets.

"Moscow welcomes these important and necessary results. We believe that they open the way to turning the situation around, preventing it from slipping into chaos and confrontation, and resuming the search for a lasting settlement of the internal political crisis in Lebanon," the ministry said in a statement published on its website.

Lebanon's government and opposition leaders began talks today in Qatar mediated by the Arab League aimed at defusing long-running tensions.

At least 80 people died in clashes between government supporters and Hezbollah militants in the worst internal clashes since the 1975-90 civil war.

Parliament in Beirut is scheduled to convene on June 10 for its 20th attempt to elect a president.

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