Christian politician and FPM founder Michel Aoun (L) walks next to Lebanon's former prime minister Saad al-Hariri after he said he will back Aoun to become president in Beirut, Lebanon October 20, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

US cautiously optimistic Lebanon will get president

The United States is cautiously optimistic that Lebanon is on the point of breaking a political deadlock and appointing its first president in two years.

“This stalemate on the issue of the presidency is hurting Lebanon and hurts the region and we hope it will move forward,” Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday.

Lebanon’s former prime minister Saad Hariri on Thursday endorsed his rival Michel Aoun’s presidential ambition, paving the way for him to be appointed.

The endorsement looks likely to fill a void that has lasted since May 2014, with Lebanon’s divided parliament unable to agree a successor to president Michel Sleiman.

Hariri, a Sunni Muslim whose party leads a Western- and Saudi-backed political bloc, had opposed Aoun’s candidacy.

Aoun, an 81-year-old Maronite Christian and former head of the Lebanese army, is allied with the Shiite movement Hezbollah, which is in turn backed by Iran.

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