2. French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, arriving
3. Wide of press conference
4. SOUNDBITE: (French) Bernard Kouchner, French Foreign Minister:
"Condemn the killings, that affect all the communities every day, all the different religious groups, the different peoples that constitute the very fabric of this country and living democracy that is best represented today by Prime Minister Fuad Saniora and his government."
5. Wide of news conference
6. SOUNDBITE: (French) Bernard Kouchner, French Foreign Minister:
"Don't count on the international community, or in any case on France, to give up (on the international tribunal). And I'm not only in a position to speak about my country, but the whole international community, and therefore we are determined. And not just when it comes to the tribunal, but equally when it comes to the full application of resolution 1701 and to our presence, the French presence, in UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon)."
France's new foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, gave a news conference in Beirut on Thursday, during a visit where he was due to talk with rival Lebanese factions about the country's deepening political crisis.
Kouchner went straight from Beirut airport into talks with Prime Minister Fuad Saniora, and was due to meet later on Thursday with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, a key opposition figure.
Speaking at a news conference after meeting Saniora, Kouchner expressed support for Saniora's government, and urged an end to the recent bloodshed in Lebanon, and the violence at the Nahr el-Bared Palestinian refugee camp.
At the core of the current Lebanese crisis is the proposed establishment of an international tribunal to try suspects
in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
The U.N. Security Council has authorised the creation of the tribunal, but its approval has been stuck in parliament, where Berri, the opposition-allied speaker, has refused to convene a session.
But Kouchner insisted the international community would not give up on the idea of the tribunal, nor indeed on the full application of resolution 1701 which the UN Security Council adopted on 14 August 2006, ending a month-long conflict in Lebanon between Hizbollah and Israel in which over 1,000 people died and hundreds were injured.
The French Foreign Ministry said Kouchner would hold talks with the main political leaders in the country.
Kouchner was expected to express France's solidarity with the Lebanese people during "this critical period,"
pressing for the country's independence, sovereignty and stability, the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
Lebanon's former colonial ruler, France is a major contributor to the U.N. peacekeeping force in southern
Lebanon and has had longtime ties with the country.
President Sarkozy supports the creation of the Hariri tribunal.
Saniora's Western-backed government has been locked in a bitter power struggle for months with the Hezbollah-led opposition seeking to topple it.
Opposition supporters have been camping outside the prime minister's offices in central Beirut since December, demanding his resignation.
Kouchner's two-day working visit, the first to a Middle East country since he was picked as foreign minister by President Nicolas Sarkozy, also came as Lebanese troops were locked in fierce fighting with Islamic militants barricaded in a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon, further heightening tensions in the country.