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    Russia to help tackle political crisis in Lebanon

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    MOSCOW, December 3 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will continue its efforts to help Lebanon to overcome a political crisis in the country, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday.

    Lavrov, who discussed the recent U.S.-hosted peace conference in a phone conversation with Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, said that "Russia will continue its work to achieve a broadest possible accord in Lebanon, which takes into consideration interests of all political and religious forces."

    A power vacuum occurred November 23 when a Lebanese parliamentary session failed to agree on a presidential candidate and the pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud left office with no apparent successor. The vote to elect a candidate was postponed until November 30 and then moved to December 7.

    But hopes of an end to the deadlock were raised last week when Lebanon's western-leaning factions said they would accept constitutional changes paving the way for the election of Army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman to the nation's top post.

    Under the Lebanese Constitution, civil servants are unable to take over the presidency for two years after stepping down.

    In Lebanon the president is elected by parliament for a six-year, non-renewable term. However, former president Lahoud's term, which was due to end in 2004, was extended until 2007 by an ad hoc amendment allowing him to stay in power.

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