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Sami Gemayel Visits Franjieh: We Will Not Back Down from Christian-Christian Reconciliation

Phalange Party MP Sami Gemayel held talks on Wednesday with Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh “as part of a follow up to Bkirki’s Christian meeting that was held on Tuesday.

Gemayel said: “We are continuing Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi’s initiative.”

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Ambassador Connelly Visits Jbeil with Minister of Culture Salim Wardy

On April 19, 2011, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly and Minister of Culture Salim Wardy visited Jbeil to tour the archeological site of ancient Byblos. Ambassador Connelly was also accompanied by Jbeil Mayor Ziad Hawwat as they toured the Byblos castle, the Houssami Heritage House, and the ancient port of Byblos. The tour highlighted the importance of preserving Lebanon’s unique heritage sites for future generations. The United States has demonstrated a long-standing commitment toward preserving Lebanon’s heritage, providing over $400,000 since 2003 toward projects ranging from conserving the Umayyad-era baths of Anjar to restoring the Islamic manuscripts at the Lebanese National Library.

Ambassador Connelly also met with municipal leaders in Jbeil to discuss the recently completed $28 million Municipal Governance Assistance Program that included the Jbeil-Byblos Municipality. The program streamlined and digitized administrative processes, while improving customer service for the citizens of Jbeil. The program, which is sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with the State University of New York/Center for Legislative Development (SUNY/CLD), has also provided new public lighting, renovated the entrance to the Old Souk and beautified the central public square.

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Berri Calls for Session for Joint Committees on April 28

House Speaker Nabih Berri called on Wednesday for a meeting for the joint parliamentary committees to be held on April 28 in order to discuss various projects that have been presented to them, reported MPs who attended the weekly Wednesday meeting.

They also reported that the Speaker seemed more optimistic regarding the formation of the new government, saying that Berri expects it to be formed after the Easter holiday.

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March 14 Rejects Campaign against Mustaqbal, Jarrah; Warns of New Plan to Create Strife in Lebanon

The March 14 General Secretariat condemned on Wednesday the Syria’s accusations that the Mustaqbal movement is meddling in Syria’s internal affairs.

It said in a statement after its weekly meeting: “Hizbullah has taken advantage of the Syrian campaign to attack the movement and accuse it of Syria’s fabricated accusations in order to settle scores with the March 14 forces after its repeated demands that the party be disarmed.”

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Kidnapped Estonians Beg for Help in Online Video

An unauthenticated video uploaded to YouTube late Tuesday shows seven Estonians kidnapped last month in eastern Lebanon begging Lebanese, Saudi, Jordanian, and French leaders to help them return home.

A local website received a tip Wednesday of the undated video, uploaded on April 19 by a user named thekidnaper2011.

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PM-designate Denies Preparations for Miqati-Suleiman Visit to Damascus

Najib Miqati’s press office denied on Wednesday that the Premier-designate’s brother went to Damascus the day before to set the stage for a visit by Miqati and President Michel Suleiman to the Syrian capital.

The press office said in a statement that the report about a visit by Taha Miqati to prepare for a meeting that the prime minister-designate and the president would hold with Syrian President Bashar Assad was “untrue.’

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Arab Forum for Environment and Development Concludes Consultation Meetings on Green Economy in Cairo, Beirut, Amman

The Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED) concluded Wednesday in Amman a series of consultation meetings to discuss the first draft of its upcoming report on an Arab Green Economy, due to be released in October 2011. The AFED report will address the transformations needed to achieve desired economic, social, and environmental sustainability goals in Arab countries. The report will address the enabling strategies and development policies for navigating a green transition in eight sectors: energy, water, agriculture, tourism, waste management, industry, cities/buildings, and transportation. The Arab Green Economy report is the fourth annual report by AFED, and follows publication of three reports, Arab Environment: Future Challenges in 2008, Impact of Climate Change on Arab Countries in 2009, and Water: Sustainable Management of a Scarce Resource in 2010.

The consultation meeting in Amman was hosted by the University of Petra (UOP), under the patronage of its President H.E. Dr. Adnan Badran, Former Prime Minister of Jordan and Chairman of AFED Board of Trustees. Fifty officials, authors, experts, business executives and civil society organizations from Jordan and abroad addressed urban city planning, green buildings and tourism. They included H.E. Mr. Khaled Irani, Former Minister of Environment and Energy, H.E. Ms. Suzanne Afanah, Former Minister of Tourism, the report’s main editor Hussein Abaza, and a wide spectrum of participants from Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Oman, UAE, Morocco, United Kingdom, USA and Sweden. The meeting discussed specific strategies to institutionalize green practices that reduce energy and water consumption and enhance the quality of life, while promoting economic growth and employment.

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Miqati Meets Suleiman, Calls for Consolidating the Country

Premier-designate Najib Miqati held talks with President Michel Suleiman at Baabda Palace on Wednesday but not did make any statement after the meeting.

Media reports said Miqati discussed with Suleiman the cabinet formation efforts. The talks came amid a continued impasse on the new government due to several obstacles, mainly Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun’s bickering with Suleiman over the interior ministry portfolio.

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North Security Council Rejects Requests to Stage Pro- and Anti-Syrian Regime Protests in Tripoli

The security council of the North announced on Wednesday that it had rejected all requests to stage demonstrations in Tripoli, including Hizb ut-Tahriri’s anti-Syrian regime protest.

It explained that the requests did not meet legal conditions and they would have taken place when Christians in Lebanon would be celebrating Good Friday.

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Al-Mustaqbal, March 8 Rattle Sabers Over Demand to Summon Syrian Envoy

The war of words between al-Mustaqbal movement and the March 8 forces seems not to be abating after Caretaker Foreign Minister Ali al-Shami said a cabinet session should be held to meet the demands of al-Mustaqbal to summon the Syrian ambassador.

Al-Shami’s press office said Tuesday that “the issue of summoning the Syrian ambassador … requires a cabinet session.”

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