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Hizbullah Delegation Meets Jumblat, Stresses 'Need to Elect President ASAP'

A Hizbullah delegation held talks Wednesday with Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat and stressed “the need to elect a new president as soon as possible.”

“The atmospheres are positive and we're all seeking to pull Lebanon out of the current dilemma with the least cost possible,” MP Mohammed Raad announced after the meeting with Jumblat at his Clemenceau residence.

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Gunmen Abduct Barouk Resident on Outskirts of Arsal

Armed men kidnapped on Wednesday a Lebanese national on the outskirts of the northeastern border town of Arsal.

Media reports said that the abductee was buying stones from a stone crusher plant in the Wadi Hmeid region.

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Maronite Bishops Reject 'Necessary Legislation': Electing President Must Be Priority

The Maronite Bishops Council rejected on Wednesday “necessary legislation” at parliament in light of the ongoing vacuum in the presidency.

It said after its monthly meeting: “The election of a president should be a priority above all else.”

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Judge Charges Man Arrested in Tripoli with Belonging to Terror Cell

Government Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr charged on Wednesday Mohammed al-Ayyoubi with belonging to a terrorist cell with the aim of carrying out terror acts a day after the Army Intelligence wrapped up investigations with him.

Saqr referred Ayyoubi to First Military Investigation Judge Riyad Abu Ghida, the state-run National News Agency reported.

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Defense Minister to Propose Army Pay Raise Bill after Objections over Public Sector Wage Scale

Defense Minister Samir Moqbel said Wednesday that he would propose a bill to the government on a wage hike for the army after the military corps expressed reservations to the controversial pay raise draft-law for the public sector.

“The military has certain requirements related to its working conditions,” Moqbel said during a joint press conference with Lebanese Forces chief George Adwan at parliament.

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Bassil Says Meeting with Muallem Held According to Norms, Rejects Criticism

Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil lashed out at critics, saying that his meeting with his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem in New York was held according to norms.

“The meeting was supposed to happen and it did,” Bassil told reporters in France.

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High-ranking Military Delegation in Moscow Ahead of Arms Deal

A high-ranking military delegation kicked off a visit to Moscow to discuss with Russian officials the needs of the army and security forces, al-Joumhouria newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The talks between the Lebanese army officials and their Russian counterparts is expected to pave way for a deal with Rosoboronexport, the sole state intermediary agency for Russia's exports/imports of defense-related products, the daily said.

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Conference to Gather Tripoli's Muslims, Christians

The Mufti of Tripoli and the North Sheikh Malek al-Shaar revealed on Wednesday that preparations are underway to hold a Christian-Islamic conference in the northern city of Tripoli.

He pointed out that contacts are underway to prepare for the conference that will include prominent religious and political figures in the city.

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Jumblat Calls for Exchange between Arsal Captives, Roumieh Prisoners to End Abduction Ordeal

Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat called on Wednesday for a swift exchange between the Arsal captives and Roumieh prison Islamist inmates, holding former Internal Security Forces personnel responsible for the “self-rule” at the facility.

“The government and crisis cell should follow up any exchange process with the kidnappers,” Jumblat said in an interview with An Nahar newspaper.

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Salam: Negotiations to Free Soldiers Continue with Utmost Secrecy

Prime Minister Tammam Salam stated on Wednesday that negotiations to free the abducted soldiers in Arsal have started to take the right course, as General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim said that “the file is on the right track.”

“Negotiations with the kidnappers have started to take effect,” Salam said following a parliamentary session and in remarks published in As Safir daily, primarily after the release of a soldier who was kidnapped two weeks ago.

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