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Official: Syrian-Saudi Initiative's Single Objective is Domestic Stability

A government official said Friday that the Syrian-Saudi initiative calls for clear steps to ease tensions in Lebanon and reduce the rhetoric among the rival political parties.

"All of the steps center on a single objective which is domestic stability and the ability of Lebanon to absorb the indictment" that will be issued by the international tribunal, the official told Agence France Presse.

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Qassem Hashem Accuses U.S. of Thwarting Saudi-Syrian Initiative

AMAL MP Qassem Hashem accused the U.S. of thwarting attempts by Saudi Arabia and Syria to find a solution to the Lebanese crisis and said the March 14 forces were procrastinating until the release of the indictment by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

"The U.S. is playing the role of obstructer to this initiative," Hashem told the Kuwaiti al-Anbaa daily in an interview published Friday. Washington "was lately ready to thwart this initiative."

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Health Ministry Says Swine Flu Does Not Require Extraordinary Measures, Less Cases than Last Winter

The Health Ministry's Director-General, Walid Ammar, reassured the Lebanese on Friday that the H1N1 strain has become similar to seasonal flu saying there were currently some cases in Lebanon but not as much as last winter's levels.

In remarks to Voice of Lebanon radio station, Ammar said illness caused by the virus requires no extraordinary measures and that complications could only arise in pregnant women, children under the age of five and people with chronic diseases.

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Report: Hizbullah Has More Firepower than 90% of Countries in the World

Iran would use Hizbullah to launch massive rocket attacks against Israel if the Jewish state targets Tehran's nuclear facilities, analysts told Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post.

"The Iranians – who are largely responsible for building up Hizbullah to such an extent that today it has more firepower than 90 percent of the countries of the world – would 'call in their chips,' and the organization would launch massive rocket attacks against Israel's home front," the analysts said about a possible Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.

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ISF: Radars Caught 67,074 Violations Till January 4

Traffic radars caught 67,074 violations from the time they were installed in November last year till January 4, 2010, said a communiqué released by the General-Directorate of the Internal Security Forces on Friday.

"Photos caught by the radars include all violating vehicles, including military and security" cars, the communiqué said.

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UNIFIL Rules Out War: No Detection of Hizbullah Rearmament in South

UNIFIL spokesperson Andrea Tenenti on Friday ruled out an imminent war between Israel and Hizbullah and said peacekeepers hadn't detected Hizbullah rearmament south of the Litani river.

In remarks to Voice of Lebanon, the Voice of Freedom and Dignity, radio station, Tenenti reassured the Lebanese that "the situation in the south is very calm."

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Berri: Positive Attitude as Saudi-Syrian Initiative Recovers, Problem Lies in Taef

Speaker Nabih Berri stressed that January will be decisive in solving the Lebanese crisis and said Premier Saad Hariri had a positive attitude on the Saudi-Syrian initiative.

Berri discussed with Hariri during a telephone conversation on Thursday efforts by Damascus and Riyadh to resolve the deadlock.

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Hariri Travels to New York to Meet Abdullah, Says Saudi-Syrian Deal Finalized but Requires Steps from Others

The Saudi-Syrian agreement on consolidating stability in Lebanon was finalized a long time ago, before Saudi King Abdullah traveled to New York for treatment, Prime Minister Saad Hariri has said.

However, in an interview with pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat published Friday, Hariri said "steps and answers are required from others, not from us, and anything else is an attempt to sabotage the Saudi-Syrian efforts."

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Terry Anderson Recalls Hostage Taking in National Geographic Special

Terry Anderson says he rarely recalls the anniversary of being kidnapped and held captive in Lebanon for nearly seven years, a crisis that he revisits in a new National Geographic special.

Instead, he's reminded of the date by others who call or e-mail when it rolls around.

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Obama, Sarkozy to Discuss Lebanon Crisis, Paris Warns from Dangerous Consequences of Security Shake-up

U.S. President Barack Obama and his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy will discuss the Lebanese crisis during talks in Washington on January 10, An Nahar daily reported Thursday.

The Elysee presidential palace announced last month that Sarkozy would visit the U.S. capital to discuss the agendas of next year's G8 and G20 summits with Obama.

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