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Al-Rahi Heads to the Vatican April 11 to Meet with the Pope, Celebrate Mass

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi will travel to the Vatican on April 11 to meet with Pope Benedict XVI and celebrate mass there at St. Peter’s Basilica, the deputy chief of the Episcopal committee on the media announced Tuesday.

Father Elie Madi said during a press conference that the patriarch would visit the Vatican April 11-16 during which he would thank the pope for the letter he sent to al-Rahi the day he was elected.

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Mario Aoun: I Didn’t Say al-Rahi’s Remark on Baroud was ‘Irresponsible’

Former minister Mario Aoun stressed on Tuesday that he described Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi’s remark on Caretaker Interior Minister Ziad Baroud as “unprecedented” but not “irresponsible.”

“I didn’t say it was irresponsible,” Aoun told Voice of Lebanon radio station. “It is unprecedented … We haven’t gotten used to such remarks from a high religious authority.”

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No Progress in Probe on Church Blast Amid Plan to Put Cameras at Zahle Entrances

The blast at the Syriac Orthodox church in Zahle went off after a call was made to a mobile phone attached to the detonation fuse, the first time a bomb has been detonated via cell phone in Lebanon, An Nahar daily reported Tuesday.

The newspaper said the investigation into the bombing on Sunday revealed that the culprits linked the detonation fuse of the 2 kilogram-TNT device to a phone that has a SIM card. Its remains were found near the church.

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Cabinet Deadlock Expands over Demands for Faisal Karami’s Representation

Premier-designate Najib Miqati is expected to visit President Michel Suleiman on Tuesday and propose to him a de facto cabinet lineup, former Prime Minister Omar Karami’s sources told As Safir daily.

They said the draft lineup does not include the name of Faisal Omar Karami. According to the sources, Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun is not aware of it and Hizbullah has already informed Miqati that it rejects a cabinet that doesn’t include Karami.

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Nasrallah, Jumblat Discuss Cabinet Formation Efforts

Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblat discussed the latest developments and cabinet formation efforts, a Hizbullah statement said Monday.

The statement said that Caretaker Minister Ghazi Aridi and Wafiq Safa attended the meeting at an undisclosed location. It did not say when the meeting took place.

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Jumblat Urges Hariri to Return to Dialogue Table in 1st Phone Conversation in 2 Months

Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat has reportedly held a telephone conversation with Caretaker Premier Saad Hariri, the first contact between the two men since the Druze leader named Najib Miqati as premier-designate more than two months ago.

Pan-Arab daily al-Hayat quoted informed sources as saying on Tuesday that Jumblat called Hariri and stressed to him the need to return to the national dialogue table.

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Syria Releases Two Lebanese Reuters Journalists

Two Reuters journalists who went missing at the weekend while covering the recent unrest in Syria have been released by authorities and have returned to Beirut, the news agency said Monday.

Reuters editor-in-chief Stephen Adler was quoted as saying that television producer Ayat Basma and cameraman Ezzat Baltaji were back in their home base in Beirut and were doing well.

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Mario Aoun: Al-Rahi's Remarks on Baroud Unprecedented

Former minister Mario Aoun on Monday described Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi's recent remarks on caretaker Interior Minister Ziad Baroud as "unprecedented."

Aoun said the patriarch's comments in support of Baroud were unprecedented given the fact that al-Rahi is the highest Maronite religious authority in the country, suggesting that the remarks were not only aimed at voicing support for Baroud's return to the interior ministry in the new cabinet.

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Phalange Calls for Confronting Plan Threatening Lebanon’s Security as Soon as Possible

The Phalange party condemned on Monday the “criminal attack” that targeted a Zahle church on Sunday, noting that it is most likely linked to other attacks that had taken place against churches in the Jbeil and Metn areas and the South.

It said in a statement after the weekly meeting for its politburo: “These attacks threaten Lebanon’s security and such a plan should be confronted as soon as possible as it may threaten the country’s national unity.”

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Jumblat: Jumping to Conclusions over Developments in Arab States May Harm Interests of Lebanese Residing There

Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat stated on Monday that jumping to conclusions on the developments in the Arab world “may intentionally or unintentionally” harm the interests of thousands of Lebanese residing there.

He said in his weekly editorial in the PSP-affiliated al-Anbaa magazine: “A number of Arab countries harbor Lebanese and it is necessary to monitor their situation.”

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