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Head of Defense Office Francois Roux Leaving the STL

The Head of the Defense Office of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, François Roux, is leaving the Tribunal on March 1, 2018, the STL said on Wednesday.

“Mr. Roux has not been reappointed due to the fact that he has passed the retirement age set at 65 by the STL Staff Rules and Regulations,” the tribunal explained in a statement.

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Farrell Says STL Trying Individuals Not Parties, Offers Help in Tueni, Gemayel Cases

The Prosecutor of the U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Norman Farrell, pointed out Wednesday that the tribunal is not trying political parties, organizations or states but rather individuals.

Speaking during an STL-organized meeting with journalists in The Hague, Farrell noted that the court does not have jurisdiction, so far, to look into the assassinations of MP Gebran Tueni, industry minister Pierre Gemayel and other figures who were murdered after Hariri's assassination. He, however, added that the STL can establish jurisdiction over the cases should it discover links to Hariri's case.

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Hariri Says Keen on Dissociation Policy, Rejects 'Any Electoral Alliance with Hizbullah'

Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Wednesday underscored his keenness on Lebanon's so-called policy of dissociation towards regional conflicts, as he promised a “real” battle against Hizbullah in the upcoming elections.

“Let everyone know that I will not sell my Arab brothers 'fake Lebanese political goods'... We are not merchants of positions and slogans, we are honest about our role towards our people and our brothers,” Hariri told a BIEL rally marking the 13th anniversary of the assassination of his father – ex-PM Rafik Hariri.

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Report: STL to Issue Verdict in Hariri Trial in Spring 2019

The verdict in ex-PM Rafik Hariri's assassination trial is expected to be issued in the spring of 2019, Special Tribunal for Lebanon sources told LBCI TV on Wednesday.

Defense lawyers for the accused Salim Ayyash and Hassan Merhi meanwhile announced that they have exhibits to refute the telecom data evidence that the Prosecution used to build its case, noting that the evidence they have could divert the accusations to parties other than Hizbullah.

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ISF, State Security Officers Held for Aiding Drug Dealers

Three officers and a non-commissioned officer from the Internal Security Forces and a State Security officer have been detained on charges of offering services to some drug dealers, media reports said.

Al-Akhbar newspaper said the officers are accused of “transporting in their military vehicles a number of fugitives wanted on drug dealing charges in order to facilitate their crossing of security checkpoints.”

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Tillerson to Urge Neutrality in Lebanon, Propose Offshore Gas Settlement

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will stress during his Thursday visit to Lebanon the need for the country to abide by a policy of neutrality towards regional conflicts in order to guarantee continued support from the international community for its security and sovereignty, a media report said.

As for the latest territorial and maritime border disputes between Lebanon and Israel, the top U.S. diplomat will call on Lebanon to “exclusively resort to the United Nations to defend its sovereignty,” al-Joumhouria newspaper quoted diplomatic sources in Washington and Beirut as saying.

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Tillerson Says Hizbullah Part of Political Process in Lebanon

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday conceded that Iran-backed Hizbullah is part of the "political process" in Lebanon, appearing to soften Washington's tone ahead of his Thursday visit to the country.

"We support a free, democratic Lebanon free of influence of others, and we know that Lebanese Hizbullah is influenced by Iran. This is influence that we think is unhelpful in Lebanon’s long-term future," Tillerson said at a press conference in Jordan.

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Hariri to Announce 'Red Lines' at BIEL's Rafik Hariri Rally

Prime Minister Saad Hariri will on Wednesday reaffirm al-Mustaqbal Movement's “constant principles” and “red lines” during a Beirut rally marking the 13th anniversary of ex-PM Rafik Hariri's assassination, al-Mustaqbal newspaper said.

Hariri will start his speech with “a special gesture about Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine and Arabs, before underlining al-Mustaqbal Movement's national and electoral stances,” the daily said.

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Jumblat Meets Hariri, Says 'Full Sovereignty, Independence' Inevitable

Progressive Socialist Party chief MP Walid Jumblat held talks Tuesday with Prime Minister Saad Hariri and stressed that Lebanon “will eventually achieve full sovereignty and full independence.”

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Polish PM Pledges $10 Million in Aid to Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

Poland's prime minister has visited a school and clinic for Syrian refugees in northern Lebanon, reiterating his country's position that aiding those uprooted by the war should take place closer to their home.

In a statement Tuesday, Mateusz Morawiecki's office said he has declared $10 million to help Lebanon build housing for 1,000 refugees from Syria. Morawiecki said aid to refugees close to the countries they want to return to is the most efficient form of aid.

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