"The parliament has been totally paralysed and I think that we need to find a constitutional platform, we need to have this parliament to start working again in order to avoid all the tension that we are seeing in the streets and mostly that the situation has become very tense inside of the country and even regionally. So it is about time to bring back discussions where discussions should be, I mean in the parliament, the Lebanese parliament."
9. Wide of camera operators
10. Exterior of Ein El-Tineh palace
11. Nabih Berri heading to the news conference
12. Cutaway of reporters
13. Close of note taking
14. SOUNDBITE: (Arabic) Nabih Berri, Lebanese Speaker of the House:
"In post Ta'ef Lebanon there is no authority without a council of ministers. The authority is also for the whole council of ministers. The authority is for the whole parliament. Who said that you can deal with the issue in such a way? Therefore the parliament will not meet with this diminished (in number) government, only when it is fully restored (in terms of numbers) in one way or another. But this does not mean that there (inaudible) should be no sessions for the parliament. This is not a threat."
15. Cutaway cameramen
16. Reporters writing
17. SOUNDBITE: (Arabic) Nabih Berri, Lebanese Speaker of the House:
"As long as their aim is to terminate the dialogue ... my answer is: 'to continue the dialogue and extend hands until we save Lebanon."
Pro-government lawmakers and their Hezbollah rivals on Tuesday dampened hopes that recent negotiations between the two camps in Lebanon would lead to an end to the country's four month long political crisis.
Several rounds of talks this month between Saad Hariri, head of the pro-government parliament majority, and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri from
opposition ranks aligned with Hezbollah, defused some of the tension permeating Lebanon and revived hopes of a reconciliation.
But tensions escalated anew Tuesday, with 45 pro-government legislators gathering in the parliament to protest Berri's refusal to convene a session
on the crisis.
Musbah Al-Ahdab, a pro-government Member of Parliament (MP) said the Lebanese parliament had "been totally paralysed."
"I think that we need to find a constitutional platform, we need to have this parliament to start working again," he said. "It is about time to bring back discussions where discussions should be, I mean in the parliament, the Lebanese parliament."
Berri has said he would not convene the parliament before opposition demands for a national unity government are met.
He has also said that even though the constitution stipulates the parliament convene for the spring session on the first Tuesday after March 15, this was not mandatory.
Walid Jumblatt, a Druse lawmaker and key government supporter, accused Berri of "hijacking" the parliament upon orders from Iran and Syria - the
main Hezbollah backers.
Dialogue, said Jumblatt, can only be beneficial in parliament.
Berri lashed back at a news conference later on Tuesday, accusing the parliamentary majority of blocking efforts for a settlement to the crisis.
He said that the parliament would only meet with the government when it is fully restored.
" The parliament will not meet with this diminished (in number) government only when it is fully restored (in terms of numbers) in one way or another. But this does not mean that there (inaudible) should be no sessions for the parliament. This is not a threat," Berri said.
Berri also criticised Tuesday's protest in parliament which he said was held mostly by legislators belonging to Hariri's parliamentary bloc who aimed to" terminate the dialogue."
"My answer is: 'to continue the dialogue and extend hands until we save Lebanon," Berri said.
Hariri is Sunni Muslim and his community backs Prime Minister Fuad Saniora's pro-Western government.
Berri is a Shiite Muslim, and his party Amal and its Hezbollah ally draw their support from the country's Shiite community.
The Christian community has lent more support to the anti-government faction than the pro-government.
The Hezbollah-led opposition has been staging protests and an open ended sit in downtown Beirut since December 1 in a bid to topple Saniora's government.
The opposition demands the government give it a veto-wielding share of the Cabinet.
Saniora has refused this, and is supported by the majority in parliament.
The confrontation has stirred political and sectarian tensions that have threatened to tear the country apart.
Nine people were killed in street clashes since December between pro- and anti-government supporters.
The opposition and Lebanon's pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud consider Saniora's government to be illegal after five Shiite ministers and a pro-Hezbollah Christian minister resigned in November.
The pro-government, anti-Syrian camp wants parliament to convene so that it can give the go-ahead for the creation of an international tribunal to try
suspects in the February 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
The Hezbollah-led front has demanded modifications to the proposal for the international court.