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Earth Hour Kicks off in Australia, Lebanon Joins in at 8:30 Local Time

The Sydney Harbour Bridge and the sails on the nearby Opera House went dark Saturday, as lights on landmarks around Australia were switched off for the global climate change awareness campaign Earth Hour.

Millions are expected to take part around the world in the annual event, including Lebanon which is set to join in at 8:30 Beirut time, organised by conservation group WWF, with hundreds of well-known sights including the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Seattle Space Needle set to plunge into darkness.

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Hariri, Erdogan Discuss Strengthening 'Moderation' in Region

Al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri held talks Wednesday in Ankara with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the “dangers” that are threatening the Middle East region and means to strengthen moderation, his press office said.

“The meeting, which lasted nearly an hour and a half, tackled the situation in the Middle East. It also focused on the need to unify efforts to deal with the risks threatening the region and strengthen the moderate majority in the Arab and Muslim worlds,” the office said in a statement.

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Saniora to STL: Hariri Told me about Murder Plots by Hizbullah

Al-Mustaqbal bloc leader MP Fouad Saniora said on Tuesday that his longtime friend, slain former Premier Rafik Hariri, confided to him that he had discovered several assassination attempts by Hizbullah against him.

“Hariri was driving his car and I was sitting next to him when he suddenly turned towards me and said: 'You know Fouad, by now we have discovered several assassination attempts by Hizbullah against me',” Saniora told the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

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Report: Lebanese-Russian Arms Deal Hits Sanctions Snag

A deal that the Lebanese army had signed with Russia to buy anti-tank guided missiles and rocket launchers is facing an obstacle caused by the western sanctions imposed on Russia, As Safir daily reported on Tuesday.

The newspaper said that the agreement with Moscow to buy Kornet missiles and the long range rocket launchers faced technical and political problems because Lebanese authorities failed to transfer 38 million dollars to Russia.

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Radioactive Material Discovered in 30 Crates of Sanitary Pads at Beirut Airport

Customs agents at Beirut's Rafik Hariri International Airport seized on Friday a number of crates of sanitary pads that contained radioactive material.

The Finance Ministry announced that 30 crates were confiscated, while Minister Ali Hassan Khalil had ordered that samples be referred to the Lebanese Atomic Energy Commission for testing.

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Germany Promises Additional Assistance over Refugee Crisis

German Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Mueller vowed on Thursday to increase assistance to Lebanon to help it confront the burden of Syrian refugees.

In the past three years, Germany granted 850 million euros to the countries hosting the refugees, with 250 million euros to Lebanon alone, Mueller said following talks with Prime Minister Tammam Salam at the Grand Serail.

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Syrian, Iraqi Christians in Lebanon Plead for International Assistance 

Syrian and Iraqi Christians have pleaded for more international assistance from new homes in Lebanon where they recently arrived after fleeing attack by militants from the Islamic State group.

They spoke on Tuesday in two Beirut churches where they lined up to receive food baskets and other humanitarian assistance from a non-profit organization called In Defense of Christians (IDC), whose mission is to protect Christians in the Middle East.

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Birds Force Lufthansa Plane to Return to Beirut Airport

A Lufthansa plane was forced to return to Beirut's Rafik Hariri International Airport on Tuesday after a flock of birds caused damaged to one of its engines, reported the National News Agency.

It said that flight 1307, which had departed the airport at 4:48 a.m., was forced to return three minutes after takeoff.

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French Defense Minister in Beirut Next Month to Oversee Arms Delivery

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said he would visit Beirut mid-April to attend a ceremony on the first shipment of $3 billion worth of weapons paid for by Saudi Arabia.

However, Le Drian told pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat in remarks published on Thursday that the delivery of helicopters, missiles, warships, telecommunications equipment and other defense material will take three years to complete.

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Report: Qatar's Envoy in Beirut over Lebanese Hostages

An envoy from Qatar was in Beirut on Thursday to mediate in the case of the Lebanese servicemen taken hostage by jihadists last year, al-Mustaqbal daily reported.

Government sources told the newspaper the mediator's arrival in the Lebanese capital was a sign that the negotiations on the captives have made a serious development.

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