Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, AP, Sept. 3, 2010
Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah Photo by AP
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Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said on Thursday that a civil war would not break out in Lebanon, despite the political tensions following the collapse of the government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Channel 10 reported citing Al-Jazeera.

According to the report, Nasrallah has held meetings with other Hezbollah officials in recent days to discuss the political situation in Lebanon.

The Hezbollah leader said he was sure there would be no civil conflict between Shiites and Sunnis in Lebanon.

Nasrallah blamed Hariri for the current political crisis.

Hariri met with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on Wednesday and held talks in France and Turkey on Thursday.

Nasrallah called on Hariri to stay abroad and not return to Lebanon.

On Wednesday, President Michel Suleiman asked Hariri to stay on as caretaker prime minister.

Suleiman began consultations over the choice of a new prime minister Thursday. He met with parliament speaker Nabih Berri, who told reporters after the meeting that the president would begin polling lawmakers on their choice on Monday.

There were expectations of prolonged wrangling over the selection of prime minister.

The crisis was the climax of tensions that have been simmering for months over the UN tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of Hariri's father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The tribunal is widely expected to indict members of Hezbollah soon, which many fear could rekindle violence in the tiny nation plagued for decades by war and civil strife.

Lebanon's 14-month-old unity government was an uneasy coalition linking bitter rivals - a Western-backed bloc led by Hariri and the Shiite Hezbollah - that was an attempt to stabilize the country. But in reality, it had been paralyzed for months because of disputes over the Hariri tribunal.

Hezbollah, which is supported by Syria and Iran and maintains an arsenal that far outweighs that of the national army, denounces the Netherlands-based tribunal as a conspiracy by the U.S. and Israel. It had been pressuring Hariri to reject any of its findings even before they came out, but Hariri has refused to break cooperation with the tribunal.

Now, the chasm between the two sides is deepening with Hezbollah accusing Hariri's bloc of bowing to the West. Hezbollah's ministers timed their resignations to coincide with Hariri's meeting with Obama in Washington, forcing him to meet the American president as a caretaker prime minister.

The collapse of the government ushers in the worst political crisis since 2008 in one of the most volatile corners of the Middle East.

Lebanon suffered through a devastating civil war from 1975-1990, a 1982 Israeli invasion to drive out Palestinian fighters in the south, a 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, and deadly sectarian fighting between Sunnis and Shiites in 2008.