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Merkel Visits Lebanon School with Syrian Refugees

German Chancellor Angela Merkel tossed a ball with students and passed out jerseys from Germany's national soccer team Friday during a visit to a public school in the Lebanese capital, where many of the students are Syrian refugees.

There are over a million Syrian refugees living in Lebanon, representing nearly a quarter of the population. This makes Lebanon the largest host country in the region, putting a huge strain on the economy. In 2017, Germany gave Lebanon 370 million euros to help with the refugees.

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Army Dismantles Israeli Spy Device in Kfarshouba

The Lebanese Army on Friday dismantled an Israeli spy device on the Kfarshouba hills inside Lebanese territory, TV networks said.

Al-Jadeed TV said the device was found near the Rweissat al-Alam post and the Kfarshouba pond on the Line of Withdrawal inside Lebanese territory.

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1 Dead, 1 Hurt as Army Foils Masnaa Smuggling Attempt

One person was killed and another was wounded as the Lebanese Army foiled an infiltration and smuggling attempt in the border region of al-Masnaa on Friday, the military said.

“An army force thwarted at dawn an attempt by a group of smugglers to infiltrate into Lebanese territory at the Masnaa area of Tallet al-Manara,” an army statement said.

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Hariri Denies Delaying Govt. Formation, May Submit Line-Up 'Tomorrow'

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri on Thursday denied that he is delaying the formation of the new government, revealing that he might submit a draft line-up to President Michel Aoun on Friday.

“I'm not neglecting the formation process but I have the right to have a vacation and I traveled to see my family. We have now 'pressed the turbo button' in order to form a government as soon as possible,” Hariri told reporters when asked about remarks by Speaker Nabih Berri.

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Hizbullah, Iran Withdrawing from Golan Border, Monitor Says

Hizbullah and Iran have started withdrawing their forces from Syria's border with Jordan and the occupied Golan Heights, in line with Russian demands, a war monitor said on Thursday.

Citing “credible sources,” the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said “the forces of Iran and Lebanon's Hizbullah and militants loyal to them have started the process of pulling out from south Syria.”

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FPM Denies Report Claiming Bassil-Hariri Talks weren't Positive

Sources from the Free Patriotic Movement's Strong Lebanon bloc have denied a media report claiming that FPM chief MP Jebran Bassil's latest Paris meeting with Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri “was not positive.”

MTV had described the meeting as futile and quoted sources close to Hariri as saying that “should Hizbullah insist on representing the anti-Mustaqbal Sunni opposition, let them find someone other than Hariri to lead the government.”

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Anxious Berri Says Hariri Dragging His Feet on Govt. Formation

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has lamented what he called the absence of “any serious cabinet formation efforts.”

In an interview with al-Akhbar newspaper published Thursday, Berri said he does not have an idea about what is going in Premier-designate Saad Hariri's mind other than that “he is dragging his feet on the formation process.”

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Merkel Arrives in Beirut on Two-Day Official Visit

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived Thursday afternoon in Lebanon on a two-day official visit.

This is the second visit to the country by a top German official within six months. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier had visited Lebanon in January.

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EU Adopts Package to Lebanon to Help It Cope with Refugees

The European Union has adopted a support package to Lebanon of 165 million euros ($191 million) to help the country cope with hosting Syrian refugees.

In a statement released to mark World Refugee Day, the EU said the package aims to support Lebanon's public education and social assistance systems.

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Berri Says Some Aim to ‘Distort’ Bekaa’s Image, Urges Aoun to Take Action

Speaker Nabih Berri on Wednesday urged President Michel Aoun to put the efforts needed in order to impose the State’s control in the cumbersome northern region of Bekaa, criticising years of “idleness” and attempts to “distort” its image.

“Our people in Bekaa need a State to carry its identity,” said Berri in a statement.

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