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WikiLeaks: Feltman Says Berri Hates Hizbullah More than March 14 Politicians Do

A leaked U.S. Embassy cable published exclusively in Al-Akhbar on Thursday revealed that Speaker Nabih Berri believed that Hizbullah underestimated Israel’s response to the party’s kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers that sparked the July 2006 war.

He made his statements to former U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman, who also reported him as saying that Berri is definitely Iran and Syria’s ally … but it would be wrong to look at him as a milder copy of Hizbullah.

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Hariri: Iranian Intervention Biggest Challenge Facing Arabs

Caretaker Premier Saad Hariri stressed on Thursday that the biggest challenge facing the Arab world is “Iran’s persistent violations,” rejecting the Iranian intervention in the internal affairs of Arab countries.

Hariri accused the Iranian authorities of trying to turn Lebanon and other Gulf states into an Iranian protectorate.

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WikiLeaks: Mohammed Jawad Khalife Warned that Hizbullah Would ‘Turn Our Life Into Hell’

Caretaker Health Minister Mohammed Jawad Khalife has warned that Hizbullah would “turn our life into hell politically” if Syria failed to reach an agreement with the U.N. commission investigating ex-Premier Rafik Hariri’s assassination.

During a meeting with then U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman on September 28, 2006, and according to a WikiLeaks cable, Khalife said car bombings and “terrorist attacks” would resume in Lebanon if Damascus failed to strike a deal with the U.N. investigators.

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WikiLeaks: Salloukh Offered to Mediate between U.S. and Hizbullah

Former Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh has reportedly told ex-U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman that he was ready to mediate between the diplomat and Hizbullah.

However, Feltman rejected the offer saying “we don’t send messages to Hizbullah” which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization.

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U.S. Embassy Official Denies Lebanese Bank 'Watch List'

The U.S. is not targeting Lebanese banks and will not look to levy “eminent punitive actions” against any bank, a senior economic adviser at the U.S. embassy told The Daily Star.

“The U.S. Treasury Department is not and will not levy charges against a single Lebanese bank,” the source said in remarks published Thursday, denying claims of the existence of a watch list of Lebanese banks.

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Abidjan Gangs Demand Ransom to Free Lebanese Families as Official Delegation Heads to Accra

Thirty Lebanese families are besieged at a factory in Abidjan and the gangs are demanding 60,000 dollars to release them, Lebanon’s ambassador to the Ivory Coast told As Safir daily published Thursday.

U.N. troops “have promised to help us today,” Ambassador Ali Ajami said.

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Cabinet Discussions Move to Next Stage as Bassil Unveils ‘Initial’ Deal on 30-Member Cabinet

Caretaker Energy Minister Jebran Bassil unveiled that agreement has been reached between Premier-designate Najib Miqati and the March 8 forces to form a 30-member cabinet but stressed that the Free Patriotic Movement is insisting on forming a government made up of 32 ministers.

“There is an agreement on an initial 30-member government formula that allows us to move to the next stage,” Bassil told An Nahar daily in remarks published Thursday.

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Bomb Shakes Ain el-Hilweh

A bomb exploded in the southern Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh on Wednesday night near a Fatah movement base, causing material damage only, Palestinian security sources said.

The sources told As Safir daily that the bomb went off at 10:15 pm Wednesday in the Taytaba neighborhood, 50 meters from the Fatah offices and was followed but gunfire.

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Hariri Says Lebanese Suffering in Abidjan, Bahrain Due to 'Foolish Political Decisions, Unjustified Alignment'

Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Wednesday noted that "weapons outside state control are aimed at bullying the State," adding that "illegal weapons cause division and destruction."

At a dinner organized by Lebanese Forces and Mustaqbal engineers, the outgoing premier said his political agenda does not include "a return to cabinet."

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Baroud Orders Detailed Probe into Roumieh Events, Including Death of 2 Inmates

Caretaker Interior Minister Ziad Baroud on Wednesday noted that security forces “strived throughout four days to contain the situation in the Roumieh prison without any bloodshed.”

In an interview with OTV, Baroud added that he has asked Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi to open a probe into the death of two inmates, noting that “there will be a detailed probe and drastic measures.”

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