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Miqati’s Cabinet Not Looming in Horizon Amid FPM’s Demands

Premier-designate Najib Miqati’s cabinet formation efforts were in tatters on Monday after the Free Patriotic Movement suggested giving up its demands for the interior ministry in return for getting the finance portfolio.

“We were at first demanding the finance portfolio but we met the demands to keep it with the Sunni sect and suggested getting the interior (ministry) instead,” Caretaker Energy Minister Jebran Bassil told As Safir daily in remarks published Monday.

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Jumblat Says he Visited Damascus Last Week

Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat unveiled on Monday that he held talks with the assistant of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s deputy, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Nasif, in Damascus last week.

Jumblat told As Safir newspaper that he discussed with Nasif on Wednesday the situation in Lebanon and the Arab world.

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Berri Expects Solution to Deadlock Soon, Allows Miqati to Choose his Bloc’s Ministers

Speaker Nabih Berri expressed optimism on Monday on the formation of the government, saying he will facilitate Premier-designate Najib Miqati’s mission by allowing him to choose the Development and Liberation bloc’s ministers.

“We have moved to the stage of resolving (the deadlock) and reaching the expected solution,” Berri told An Nahar daily.

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Hizbullah Urges Authorities to Protect Satellite TV Networks from Jamming

Hizbullah on Sunday called on Lebanese authorities to take measures to protect Lebanese satellite TV networks from jamming.

"The attack that some Lebanese satellite TV networks have been suffering is not the first of its kind, although it represents a dangerous precedent after the broadcast of NBN TV network has been totally blocked," said a statement released by Hizbullah's Media Relations Unit.

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Dim Hopes of Cabinet Formation Soon as Suleiman, Aoun Hold Onto Interior Ministry

President Michel Suleiman and Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun were still at loggerheads on Sunday over the interior ministry portfolio and the Change and Reform bloc chief’s insistence to name most of the Christian ministers.

While Premier-designate Najib Miqati stressed he was keen on the constitution and balance of power, there were dim hopes of forming a cabinet soon amid the bickering between Suleiman and Aoun.

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Israel Plans Offshore Gas Field Defense from Lebanon

The Israeli navy is to present a plan for the defense of offshore gas fields that hold the prospect of greatly reducing the Jewish state's energy dependency, the mass-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper reported Sunday.

Citing a senior military official, the newspaper said that the plan, which will require government approval, will have an initial price-tag of $40-70 million and will be presented at the end of the month.

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Sfeir Heads to Rome, Backs Liberation of Land within Lebanon’s Natural Boundaries

Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir on Sunday wished Premier-designate Najib Miqati success in forming the government and stressed support for the liberation of land within Lebanon’s natural boundaries.

“We wish him (Miqati) success and congratulate anyone who has been tasked with forming the new cabinet,” Sfeir said at Rafik Hariri international airport before heading to Rome to participate in the unveiling of the statue of Saint Maroun in Saint Peter’s square.

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March 14 to Hold a Protest to Reject ‘Weapons-State Coexistence’

March 14 general-secretariat coordinator Fares Soaid said Sunday that the coalition will organize a “peaceful and democratic protest” in support of the international tribunal on the sixth anniversary of the March 14 Cedar Revolution.

The protest will take place in all Lebanese regions and will bear the slogan of the protection of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and rejection of coexistence between weapons and the state, Soaid told Voice of Lebanon radio station.

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Miqati’s Nephew in U.S. Amid Warning of ‘Dangerous Consequences’ of Hizbullah-led Cabinet

Premier-designate Najib Miqati’s nephew is reportedly in Washington in an attempt to garner the support of the Obama administration for the billionaire businessman’s future government.

Informed sources told pan-Arab daily al-Hayat in remarks published Sunday that Azmi Taha Miqati is discussing with low-ranking U.S. officials ways to garner support for the new cabinet.

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March 14 Preconditions Participation on Policy Statement Support for Tribunal, Rejection of Arms

The March 14 forces have reportedly preconditioned their participation in the cabinet on the inclusion in the policy statement of articles stressing Lebanon’s commitment to the international tribunal and preserving political life from arms.

Informed March 14 forces told An Nahar daily in remarks published Sunday that the coalition is insisting on including two articles that stress the country’s “commitment to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and the protection of political life from the predominance of weapons.”

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