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Bkirki Invites Maronite Leaders, MPs to Meeting on June 2

The Maronite patriarchate invited Maronite leaders and lawmakers to a meeting in Bkirki next month to hold consultations on social and national issues, a statement issued by the patriarchate’s secretariat said Monday.

The meeting kicks off on June 2 at 9:30 am, it said.

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Renewed Controversy Over Legitimacy of Parliamentary Session

A dispute between the March 8 and 14 forces over the legitimacy of holding a parliamentary session during the absence of the cabinet renewed on Monday over fears that Speaker Nabih Berri will go ahead with his plan.

Al-Mustaqbal bloc member MP Atef Majdalani said that such a session will not be the solution to resolve people’s problems.

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Suleiman to Feltman: Lebanese-Syrian Ties as Old as the Two Countries

President Michel Suleiman asserted to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman that Lebanese-Syrian ties “are as old as the two countries,” reported As Safir newspaper on Monday.

His statements came as a response to the U.S. official’s inquiry about Lebanon’s position on the developments in Syria, which Feltman was surprised by, according to the newspaper.

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UN, EU Appeal for Immediate Release of Estonians, Say Abduction a Threat to Lebanon’s Standing in the World

The Head of the Delegation of the European Union, Angelina Eichhorst, and U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams made a joint appeal on Monday for the immediate and urgent release of the seven Estonian tourists.

“We appeal for the immediate release of the seven abducted Estonian nationals. These bicyclists came to Lebanon as tourists, with no ill intent. No purpose whatsoever is served by their continued detention,” said Eichhorst and Williams.

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March 14 Hints at Need for Change in Miqati’s ‘Nomination Status’

Premier-designate Najib Miqati has continued to hold onto his constitutional mission of forming the new cabinet as the March 14 forces began hinting that his “nomination’s status should change.”

Miqati’s visitors quoted him as saying that he would not make concessions on the authorities of the prime minister set in the constitution. “Mistaken are those who think that he would tolerate such a thing.”

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Miqati to Launch New Round of Consultations to Break Cabinet Impasse

Premier-designate Najib Miqati is expected to launch in the next few days a new round of consultations aimed at forming the new government in coordination with Speaker Nabih Berri, Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat and Hizbullah.

March 8 sources told An Nahar newspaper on Monday that Miqati would play an essential role in reviving the consultations that reached a standstill last week over allegedly growing demands by Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun.

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Report: Nasrallah to Address Syria Turmoil, Obama’s Speech on Liberation Day

Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is expected for the first time to address the situation in Syria during a speech on the occasion of Liberation Day on Wednesday.

Syrian President Bashar Assad, who along with Iran is Hizbullah’s main backer, is facing a nine-week uprising against his regime.

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Jumblat Urges Assad to Introduce Radical Change to Deal with Challenges Facing Syria

Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat urged Syrian President Bashar Assad to take “immediate measures that could introduce radical change” to confront the challenges facing Syria.

He said in his weekly editorial in the PSP-affiliated al-Anbaa magazine: “These changes will help fulfill the people’s legitimate demands and prevent Syria from falling victim to division.”

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Berri Condemns Feltman’s ’Blatant Interference,’ Says he Was Right in not Meeting with him

Speaker Nabih Berri slammed what he called the blatant meddling of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman in Lebanon’s internal affairs.

In remarks to As Safir daily on Monday, Berri stressed that he took the right decision not to hold talks with Feltman after he read the statement issued over the diplomat’s visit to Beirut on Friday.

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Army Frees 3 Abducted Iraqis after Gunfight with Kidnappers in Wadi Khaled

Army troops managed Sunday to liberate three Iraqi nationals abducted on May 20 in the northern border town of al-Bqaiaa after a gunfight with the kidnappers in neighboring Wadi Khaled, the Army Command's Orientation Directorate said in a statement.

"After the army's intelligence directorate acquired information about the disappearance of three Iraqi citizens in the al-Bqaiaa area on May 20, the directorate conducted a series of investigations that led to locating them," the orientation directorate said in its statement.

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