Lebanese president slams Chirac over summit snub

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PARIS: Lebanon s pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud Thursday accused his French counterpart Jacques Chirac of barring him from a summit of French-speaking countries, saying it was an interference in Lebanese affairs. The president of Romania does what Chirac tells him to do, Lahoud told France Inter radio. President Chirac told him a few months ago not to invite me. Now he is looking for excuses, but that is not the truth. Romanian President Traian Basescu – whose country is hosting the summit – said on Wednesday it was his personal choice not to invite Lahoud. Paris has denied playing a role in the decision. Speaking on Radio France Internationale, Lahoud charged that his exclusion is a legal and practical interference in Lebanon s internal political affairs, and makes the French president an active party in the inter-Lebanese conflict . Chirac has insisted the decision was made in the light of UN deliberations on the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, who was a personal friend of the French president. A UN report has implicated senior officials from Syria in the killing. Lahoud challenged the notion that the UN supported the decision. We have had four reports, and in none is my name quoted. I was the first one to ask for them to carry out an investigation, to find out the truth, and I hope that we do find those responsible. The pro-Syrian leader is being boycotted by Western nations who do not consider him legitimate. Lahoud s mandate was controversially extended following a constitutional modification put through parliament by pro-Syrian MPs in September 2004.

Syrian troops left their long-dominated neighbor last year following Hariri s assassination in February 2005.

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