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Lebanese relieved but wary over political deal

world Updated: May 21, 2008 19:14 IST

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Weary Lebanese expressed relief on Thursday at the announcement of a deal to end 18 months of crisis that drove the country to the brink of civil war but also concern it might be only a temporary reprieve.

Regional and international powers that had taken opposing sides during the protracted crisis which has left the country without a president for six months united in welcoming the agreement hammered out in six days of negotiations.

"Hopefully this is not a Band-Aid solution and is a long-lasting one," said Beirut resident Aleco Assaf, 64. "People need to live in peace."

Across Lebanon, people were glued to radio or television sets listening to the Qatari Prime Minister announce the deal between government and opposition leaders after the talks in the Qatari capital Doha.

"I am very optimistic because finally we're going to be able to live" said Josiane Nakad, who sells swim-wear in the Hamra district of west Beirut.

"I haven't had any sales lately because people didn't know whether they would be spending their summer on the beach or under the bombs.

"I just hope this is a long-lasting accord and not just a reprieve."

On the streets, in coffee shops and in telephone conversations, people could be heard congratulating each other on the end of the deadlock between the government and the opposition that erupted in sectarian bloodshed earlier this month.