1. Pan across barriers and barbed wire surrounding Lebanese prime minister's office
2. Lebanese flag
3. Soldier behind barbed wire, outside Lebanese prime minister's office
4. WS of Secretary general of the Arab League press conference
5. SOUNDBITE: (Arabic) Amr Moussa, secretary General of the Arab League, "Progress has been made at some levels in the package and there are some levels that need further effort and this will need us to come back again for further consultation"
6. Cutaway reporters
7. SOUNDBITE: (Arabic) Amr Moussa, secretary General of the Arab League, " You have heard of the proposed numbers (cabinet members) and this is agreed and will just have to negotiate guarantees"
8. Cutaway reporters
9. SOUNDBITE: (Arabic) Amr Moussa, secretary General of the Arab League, "We want to reach a formula of no victor, no vanquished ... A win-win situation."
The Arab League chief Amr Moussa said Thursday the Lebanese government and opposition have agreed on a national unity Cabinet, in a major step toward defusing political and sectarian tensions, but added that more work was still needed to seal a deal.
Wrapping up two days of mediation talks with rival Lebanese factions, Moussa told a news conference that he might have to return to Beirut in the next few days to continue his discussions with government and opposition leaders to reach an agreement on a package.
He said the parties had agreed on a Cabinet of national unity, which would include opposition minority and majority members, but they wanted to discuss "guarantees" to make it work.
The formula agreed would give the anti-Syrian coalition less than two-thirds majority of the Cabinet and it would leave the opposition short of their demand for a veto-wielding one third plus one.
A neutral Cabinet minister would hold the balance.
"We want to reach a formula of no victor, no vanquished ... A win-win situation," Moussa said.
Moussa referred to an earlier formula for a new 30-member Cabinet, whereby Prime Minister Fuad Saniora and his allies would hold 19 seats, Hezbollah and its allies in the opposition would hold 10 seats and a neutral minister being the balancing factor.
That formula would deprive Saniora and his anti-Syrian allies from taking decisions by a two-third majority while Hezbollah and its pro-Syrian allies would lack the 11 seats needed to veto decisions or to even bring down the government through mass resignations. That formula would force both sides to reach consensus on key decisions.
A unity government has been a major demand of the Hezbollah-led opposition, which has been waging a campaign of sit-ins and street protests in Beirut for two weeks.
It had threatened to work to oust Saniora's Western-backed government if the minimum demand of full participation in the Cabinet was not met.
Saniora's allies have demanded that the fate of President Emile Lahoud, a pro-Syrian, be on the table, and want a new president elected before Lahoud's term ends in November.
Another point of dispute is over an international tribunal to try suspects in the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri, with the government approving it but the opposition balking at endorsing the draft before the government crisis is solved.
Moussa said a committee comprising delegates from the government and the opposition would be formed to discuss opposition reservations over the framework of the Hariri tribunal.
The Arab League chief called on parties to defuse the tensions and expressed hope to work out some of the issues in the next two weeks.
The opposition has said it will not pull out the thousands of supporters who have been camping out in tents in downtown Beirut near the prime minister's office before their demands are met.
The western-backed prime minister has refused opposition demands to quit and has been working from his office behind a cordon of barbed wire and hundreds of combat troops and armed police.