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Change and Reform Bloc Ministers Criticize Cabinet Performance, Threaten to Resign

Change and Reform bloc ministers, loyal to Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun, are threatening to resign from the cabinet over the alleged bad performance of the government.

“The FPM considers that the approach of the cabinet regarding a number of issues is close to the performance of the previous government led by (ex-PM Saad) Hariri,” sources close to MP Michel Aoun told As Safir on Friday.

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Sources: Majority of Ministers to Vote in Favor of Funding

The majority of the 30-member cabinet ministers would support the funding of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon if the issue was put up to vote during a session scheduled to be held next Wednesday, informed sources said.

The sources told al-Liwaa daily published Friday that if President Michel Suleiman decided to put the funding issue to vote, 16 or 17 ministers would vote in favor of paying Lebanon’s 49 percent share to the tribunal.

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Juppe Ready to Meet Miqati, Warns of Repercussions of Syrian Civil War

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has expressed readiness to hold talks with Premier Najib Miqati after confirming to him that Lebanon would fund the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

In remarks to al-Arabiya Arab TV network on Thursday, Juppe said: “We have previously met in September and he (Miqati) confirmed to me back then that the necessary measures to fund (the STL) will be made.”

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Jumblat Slams Lebanese ‘Bazaar’ and ‘Absurdities’ of Politics

Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat has described the situation in Lebanon and the crisis on the funding of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon as an “open bazaar over strange things.”

When asked by As Safir daily to comment about the situation, Jumblat, who is currently in Brussels, said he prefers to stay away from Lebanese politics and its “absurdities.”

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Berri Seeks Withdrawing STL from Cabinet Agenda on November 30

Speaker Nabih Berri is seeking consensus on the funding of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon through contacts with President Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister Najib Miqati in coordination with the March 8 leadership, As Safir newspaper reported on Friday.

The report said that Berri’s ongoing contacts with Suleiman and Miqati is to convince them to withdraw the issue of the STL from the cabinet discussions, for the time being.

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Miqati Hints He May Quit: Mustaqbal Rally May Not Be Innocent

Prime Minister Najib Miqati hinted Thursday that he might step down if his government failed to pay its 49 percent annual share of funds to the U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is probing the 2005 assassination of former premier Rafik Hariri.

“I will take a (proper) stance should the government fail to finance the STL but I hope things will not reach the extent of submitting my resignation,” Miqati said in an interview on LBC television.

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Paris Denies French Agents Dispatched to Lebanon, Turkey Borders

French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero on Thursday denied a media report claiming that French intelligence operatives had arrived to the borders of Lebanon and Turkey to train members of the rebel Free Syrian Army, dismissing the report as “baseless.”

“You know that the (French) magazine Le Canard enchainé, (which published the report Wednesday), is a satirical weekly. This report is inaccurate and baseless,” Valero said in an interview with Lebanon’s OTV.

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March 14 Preparing for Plan to Tackle Hizbullah after Demise of Syrian Regime

The March 14 forces are preparing a document to tackle Hizbullah’s presence in Lebanon after the fall of the Syrian regime, reported Akhbar al-Yawm news agency on Thursday.

March 14 sources told the news agency that the forces are preparing for a Hizbullah that has laid down its arms, adding that their line of action will become clearer after Sunday’s Mustaqbal movement rally in Tripoli.

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Rebel Army Chief Accuses Hizbullah of Sending 'Mercenaries' to Syria

Free Syrian Army chief Riad al-Asaad on Thursday claimed President Bashar al-Assad’s regime was now counting on "mercenaries" sent by Lebanon's Hizbullah and Iraq's anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr.

In a telephone interview with Agence France Presse, Asaad also called for foreign air strikes on "strategic targets" in Syria to speed up the fall of the regime.

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Watkins Meets Suleiman, Saniora, Discusses Ban’s Report on 1701

United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon ad interim, Robert Watkins, held talks on Thursday with President Michel Suleiman and former Prime Minister Fouad Saniora on the implementation of U.N. Security Council resolution 1701.

Watkins briefed Suleiman on U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1701, which was submitted to the members of the Security Council on November 15.

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