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Roknabadi: 4 Kidnapped Iranian Diplomats Alive in Israeli Jails

Iran’s ambassador Ghazanfar Roknabadi said on Thursday that four Iranian diplomats, seized in 1982 by a Christian militia in Lebanon, are still alive and being held in Israel.

“We believe that they are alive in Israeli jails. That’s why we have asked the Lebanese government to seriously follow-up the issue,” Roknabadi said following talks with Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour.

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Govt. Policy Statement May Be Finalized Thursday amid ‘Friendly’ Committee Discussions

The government policy statement may be finalized on Thursday or Friday given the “friendly and productive” discussions taking place among the committee charged with drafting it, Prime Minister Najib Miqati’s circles told As Safir newspaper in remarks published on Thursday.

They said that should the committee fail to complete it today, it would hold a session on Friday seeing as all sides are eager to finalize it as soon as possible.

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Proportional Representation to Be Adopted in Next Parliamentary Elections

The committee charged with drafting a government policy statement has suggested adopting proportional representation in the next parliamentary elections.

Prominent ministerial sources told An Nahar daily in remarks published on Thursday that the committee approved on Tuesday the clause on the equation army, people, and resistance, while the political aspects of the policy statement were addressed during Wednesday’s meeting.

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Aridi: Connelly Didn’t Impose Conditions on Jumblat

Public Works Minister Ghazi Aridi denied that U.S. Ambassador Maura Connelly had imposed any conditions on MP Walid Jumblat or the new cabinet during her meeting with the Druze leader.

In remarks to al-Joumhouria daily on Thursday, Aridi said that Connelly did not impose on Jumblat “conditions or specific demands about the new cabinet, particularly the policy statement.”

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March 14 Plans Large-Scale Meeting, Forms Network to Manage Battle Against Cabinet

The leadership of the March 14-led opposition is planning to hold a large-scale meeting in which former Premier Saad Hariri, who is currently in Paris, would take part ahead of the parliamentary vote of confidence session, al-Liwaa daily reported Thursday.

The newspaper said the meeting would be similar to the Bristol 2 conference and would be aimed at agreeing on the major steps that the opposition would take to confront Premier Najib Miqati’s cabinet in the parliament.

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Berri: Cabinet Formation ‘Shocked’ Washington, Premiership Not ‘Private Property’

Speaker Nabih Berri said on Thursday that the U.S. is targeting PM Najib Miqati because it was seeking to bring someone else to the Grand Serail, knowing that “when Miqati was nominated for the premiership in 2005 no one opposed.”

“The Americans wanted to impose a PM on Lebanon, throwing away the results of the democratic process that brought Miqati to the premiership,” Berri told As Safir newspaper.

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STL Clause Stirs Controversy as Hizbullah, FPM Suggest Replacing it with ‘Justice and Truth’

The controversial issue of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon could be discussed at the national dialogue table if Premier Najib Miqati failed to agree with Hizbullah and the Free Patriotic Movement on how to include a clause on the court in the cabinet’s draft policy statement.

The 12-member ministerial committee that met under Miqati at the Grand Serail on Wednesday did not discuss the tribunal issue but al-Liwaa daily said that the representatives of Hizbullah and FPM chief Michel Aoun have stressed to the premier their rejection to mention the STL in the policy statement.

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Ohio Woman Gets over 3 Years for Funding Hizbullah

An Ohio woman was sentenced to 40 months in prison Wednesday for her role in a conspiracy to ship hundreds of thousands of dollars to Hizbullah.

Amera Akl, 38, of Toledo, Ohio, pleaded guilty last month to one count of conspiracy to provide material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

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Policy Statement Committee Discusses Economic Clauses without Tackling STL

The ministerial committee tasked with drafting the Policy Statement of the new government on Wednesday pursued its discussions and agreed on a host of clauses pertaining to the economic, financial and developmental policies.

The committee, however, did not tackle the controversial clause on the U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

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Berri Slams U.S. Stand: What Was Acceptable under Hariri is Now Forbidden under Miqati

Speaker Nabih Berri stressed on Wednesday the need to devise the government’s policy statement saying that the cabinet has internal and external challenges to confront.

He said before MPs during his weekly meeting with them: “The main challenge it faces is being able to succeed.”

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