Lebanon Gov't Collapses as Hezbollah Walks Out

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BEIRUT -  Lebanon's year-old unity government collapsed Wednesday after Hezbollah and its allies walked out over a U.N.-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

The U.N. tribunal is set to issue indictments for the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. In response, Hezbollah had threatened to bring down the government if current Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri didn't call a cabinet meeting to discuss the matter.

The walkout puts the country into a political crisis and could set the stage for more violence in an already volatile region.

The Special Tribunal on Lebanon, formed in 2007, is expected to indict members of the Iranian-backed Shi'ite group.

Sa'ad Hariri, son of the slain prime minister, is on an official visit to the U.S., where he is scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama and other government officials.

On Tuesday, Obama and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah discussed the situation by telephone, The Associated Press reported.

A statement released by the White House on Tuesday said Obama "looks forward to continuing to work together with Saudi Arabia and other partners to support Lebanon's sovereignty, independence, and stability."

In November, the London-based Asharq Alawsat reported that Hezbollah was formulating a plan to take over Beirut if the tribunal indicted any of its members.

Hariri brought Hezbollah into the coalition in 2009 after efforts to form a unity government failed, giving into the group's demand for parliamentary veto power.

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