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Suleiman Reportedly Gives up Interior Ministry but FPM Rejects Giving it to Neutral Personality

President Michel Suleiman and Premier-designate Najib Miqati have reportedly reached a tacit agreement for the head of state to drop his demand for the interior ministry portfolio as part of his share in the new cabinet.

An Nahar daily said Friday that Miqati visited Baabda palace the day before to discuss with Suleiman the government deadlock that mainly rose because of the bickering between the president and Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun over the portfolio.

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Jumblat Warns that Political Vacuum Wearing Out Lebanon

Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat has said that Damascus encourages all Lebanese sides to make concessions to end the political vacuum that is “wearing the country away.”

“It is not true that Damascus has no interest in forming the government,” As Safir newspaper quoted him as saying in remarks published Friday. On the contrary, Jumblat said that he heard Syrian encouragement for all Lebanese sides to make concessions and form the government.

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Report: Suleiman Told Assad he Wanted to Visit Syria as Expression of Support

President Michel Suleiman and Premier-designate Najib Miqati have reportedly held telephone conversations with Syrian President Bashar Assad lately.

Well-informed sources told As Safir newspaper in remarks published Friday that Suleiman and Assad discussed the latest developments in Syria.

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Two Inerga-Type Rockets Explode in Tripoli

Two Inerga-type rockets exploded in sensitive neighborhoods of Tripoli Thursday that have previously been the scene of clashes between Alawite and Sunnis, a security official said.

One rocket exploded on a street in the Jabal Mohsen neighborhood, near a school, mainly inhabited by Alawites that back the embattled Syrian regime.

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Al-Rahi Heads to Vatican on Friday to Attend Pope John Paul II’s Beatification

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi is scheduled to travel to Rome on Friday to attend the beatification ceremony of Pope John Paul II, which will be held on Sunday at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

The patriarch is set to hold talks with a number of Italian officials on his visit including President Giorgio Napolitano and Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.

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Frattini: UNIFIL’s Mission Should Change if Hizbullah Became Hostile over Syria’s Weakness

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini revealed on Thursday that his country agreed with French President Nicolas Sarkozy to propose imposing strict sanctions against Syrian military and intelligence officials responsible for the violence against Syrian protestors.

He said that the proposal will be made before the European Union.

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2 Anti-Confessional Regime Protestors Arrested after Burning Tires in Nabatiyeh

Security forces arrested two people for arguing with police after blocking the Hboush-Nabatiyeh main road with burning tires, the National News Agency reported Thursday.

The two men along with several other protestors were calling for the collapse of the country’s confessional system, NNA said.

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Push to Ban Liquor in Nabatiyeh

Two months after Yaacoub Yaacoub opened his liquor store in Nabatiyeh he shut it down -- not for lack of customers, he says, but due to pressure.

"Members of local political parties came to see me and made it clear that stores that sell alcohol were not welcome in town," said Yaacoub, 50.

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Three People Missing in Tripoli

Two Lebanese citizens and a Palestinian from Tripoli’s Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood have disappeared, al-Akhbar daily reported Thursday.

It said worried parents headed to hospitals and resorted to the security forces to find out the whereabouts of the men.

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Report: ‘Tacit Time Limit’ to Carry out Illegal Construction Near Airport

Hizbullah and Amal movement have given the green light to residents near Beirut airport to carry out illegal construction work, An Nahar newspaper reported on Thursday without naming the two parties.

It said the “de facto powers” have given residents a “tacit time limit” to carry out the wave of building violations on state property mainly in Ouzai and the areas near Rafik Hariri international airport.

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