BEIRUT -- The head of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, said yesterday that there had been progress in his efforts to bring rival Lebanese leaders to reach agreement on defusing political and sectarian tensions.
Moussa, the former Egyptian foreign minister, arrived in Beirut yesterday amid antigovernment protests by Hezbollah.
He met with several of those involved in the crisis, including the Hezbollah leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah.
"Progress has been made," at various levels in the package, Moussa said, declining to elaborate. He spoke after a meeting with Prime Minister Fuad Saniora.
"No progress can be made unless all parties reach a common ground that includes gains and maybe concessions," Moussa said.
The Shi'ite group Hezbollah and allies are threatening to bring down Saniora's government unless it is reformed to give them enough power to veto its decisions. Saniora, backed by anti-Syrian politicians who dominate parliament, has refused.
The Hezbollah-led protests have raised fears the standoff could deteriorate into violence, exacerbating tensions between Lebanon's religious communities.
"I tell the Lebanese people to hold to hope," Moussa told reporters after a meeting with Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir, the head of the influential Maronite Catholic Church in Lebanon. His efforts, Moussa said, needed a "quiet diplomacy" on the principle of "no victor, no vanquished," to succeed.
Saniora's government, meanwhile, is trying to push through approval of a UN-organized tribunal to try suspects in the February 2005 killing of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, which many in Lebanon blame on Syria. Saniora's Cabinet reaffirmed its approval of the tribunal Tuesday night, but it is being held up by the president and parliament speaker, both allies of Hezbollah and Syria.
UN investigators issued their latest report on Tuesday, disclosing they had uncovered links between Hariri's assassination and 14 other murders or attempted murders of prominent figures in two years. The report said the investigation has identified suspects and witnesses, but did not reveal their names.