London, Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat- Head of the Democratic Gathering Walid Jumblatt told Asharq Al-Awsat that he will not apologize publicly to Syria if this is a precondition as reported in the Lebanese media. Jumblatt stated that he has fulfilled his duties for reconciliation with the Syrian leadership and said that he believes that three-quarters of the road to Damascus has opened up.
A public opinion poll conducted by Asharq Al-Awsat amongst circles popular with Jumblatt showed that there was some nervousness regarding what is considered continuous “compromises” offered by Jumblatt to Syria.
A source close to Jumblatt told Asharq Al-Awsat that even if Jumblatt apologizes publicly to Syria “it will not result in a meeting between Jumblatt and Assad, as some are saying, but rather [it will result] in preliminary meetings and [taking] preliminary steps is inevitable.” The source added: “Jumblatt’s visit to Damascus will not happen soon. The Syrians are not in a hurry. Moreover, they left the issue to Hezbollah to deal with. It is as if for them the [right] time is yet to come.”
Jumblatt was absent from the March 14 Coalition gathering on Sunday held at the Bristol Hotel in Beirut.
At the meeting attended by Prime Minister Saad al Hariri, the March 14 forces called on people to gather in Freedom Square in downtown Beirut to “ensure continuance on the path of independence, determination in crossing over to an institutional state…sovereignty of all its land.” The statement emphasized that national unity in Lebanon “cannot be achieved through impositions by a single group amongst us or by outside actors.” The statement was read by March 14 General Secretariat Coordinator Fares Soaid.
The source close to Jumblatt confirmed that the Democratic Gathering will take part in the 14 February commemoration [for Rafik Hariri] but the level of representation is yet to be decided. Walid Jumblatt announced that he will not give a speech on this occasion.