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Coordination Committee to Follow up Food Safety Techniques

A technical coordination committee was formed on Thursday to follow up the recent food scandal, which saw the closure of restaurants, slaughterhouses and other institutions since Health Minister Wael Abou Faour launched his campaign against violators earlier this month.

The ministerial committee on food safety met under Prime Minister Tammam Salam at the Grand Serail.

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Families of Captive Servicemen Say State Only Authorized to Negotiate Jihadists

The families of the kidnapped soldiers and policemen stressed on Thursday that the Lebanese state is the only side authorized to negotiate with jihadists the release of their loved ones.

“The state is our only representative and voice as we are all under its authority,” the relatives of the hostages said in a statement.

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Officials Advise Authorities to Follow in Hizbullah Footsteps over Captives

The indirect negotiations between Hizbullah and Syrian fighters that led to the release of a party member should be a motive for the Lebanese state to arrest jihadists and use them in a prisoners swap, officials said Thursday.

The pro-Hizbullah officials told As Safir newspaper that militants from the Islamic State group, al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front and the Free Syrian Army should not be referred to trial.

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Report: Joumaa Demands to Stand Trial, Says Negotiations with Nusra 'Waste of Time'

Syrian detainee Imad Jomaa, a member of the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front, whose arrest sparked the Arsal unrest in August, reportedly expressed doubt that negotiations with the jihadists entrenched on the outskirts of the town on the porous Syrian-Lebanese border would lead to his release.

Jomaa, according to As Safir newspaper published on Thursday, is demanding to be referred to the judiciary to stand trial as he believes that the negotiations are “a waste of time.”

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Maliki in Lebanon to Meet Senior Officials

The Iraqi President's deputy and former Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is expected to visit Lebanon on Saturday.

According to reports, Maliki will meet with prominent Lebanese officials and party leaders.

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Report: French, Lebanese Officials Finalize Deal on Army's Needs

A French military delegation and officials at the Lebanese defense ministry reached a final agreement on the arms and ammunition that the army needs under the $3 billion Saudi grant announced last year, An Nahar daily reported on Thursday.

The newspaper said that the discussions between the Lebanese officials and the delegation, which includes military experts and representatives from French companies, settled the Lebanese army's request for aid to its ground, navy and air brigades.

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Asiri Welcomes Mustaqbal-Hizbullah Dialogue, Denies Naming Aoun for Presidency

Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awadh Asiri noted Wednesday that Riyadh's call for blacklisting Hizbullah as a “terrorist” organization must not have any impact on the domestic Lebanese affairs, voicing support for any dialogue between Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal movement.

“We back any dialogue that gathers the Lebanese,” Asiri said in an interview with NBN television, revealing that during talks in Ain al-Tineh he sensed insistence by Speaker Nabih Berri to secure the success of dialogue between the two parties.

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U.S. State Department Renews Lebanon Travel Warning

The United States on Wednesday renewed its travel warning to Lebanon and advised U.S. citizens already in the country to remain cautious.

“The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to Lebanon because of ongoing safety and security concerns. U.S. citizens living and working in Lebanon should understand that they accept risks in remaining and should carefully consider those risks,” the department said in a travel advisory on its website.

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Retired Soldier Freed after Brief Abduction in Wadi al-Sarj

A retired Lebanese army first adjutant was released Wednesday after he was kidnapped overnight from the Bekaa border town of Arsal at the hands of armed groups.

The gunmen “have freed Ali Ahmed al-Hujeiri after abducting him at night from the Arsal area of Wadi al-Sarj,” Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) reported.

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Abou Faour Says Some Establishments Now Meet Food Safety Standards as New Violators Named

Health Minister Wael Abou Faour vowed on Wednesday that the ministry will continue its food safety campaign regardless of intimidation or attempts to extort the inspectors, while revealing that some establishments that had committed violations have since exerted efforts to meet health standards.

He said during a press conference: “Our campaign has once again brought up the issue of food safety at cabinet and no one should bank on our failure or exasperation in this case.”

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