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Sfeir Worried about Mass Emigration of Christians

Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir on Thursday expressed concern over the mass emigration of Christians in search for security and hoped the New Year would bring peace to Lebanon and the Middle East.

In a statement to a delegation from the Maronite League Council headed by Dr. Joseph Tarabay, Sfeir said: "The emigration of Christians from the region has increased."

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Army Sources Accuse U.N., UNIFIL of Neglect in Maritime Border Delineation

High-ranking Lebanese army officials accused the United Nations and UNIFIL of dereliction in delineating Lebanon's maritime borders with Israel.

The sources told As Safir daily that the Lebanese government handed over maps and documents on the delineation of the border to the U.N., which hasn't made a single move.

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Jumblat for Filing Complaint with U.N. if Israel Explores Gas in Lebanese Waters

Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat urged the Lebanese government to file a complaint with the U.N. if Israel seizes natural gas from Lebanese territorial waters.

Jumblat told As Safir newspaper in remarks published Thursday that any Israeli attempt to explore oil from disputed sea areas is a clear violation of all agreements and international resolutions.

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Berri Urges Government to Take Action after Discovery of Leviathon Natural Gas Reserve

Speaker Nabih Berri said Lebanon should immediately issue decrees for the implementation of the oil law adopted by parliament and pressure the U.N. to delineate the country's sea borders with Israel.

Berri made his remark to As Safir newspaper on Thursday after the largest reserve of natural gas, over 16 trillion cubic feet, was discovered off the coast of Israel.

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Suleiman, Hariri Spend New Year Abroad

Prime Minister Saad Hariri traveled to Riyadh on Wednesday, the same day he returned from New York where he met with Saudi King Abdullah.

Hariri went to Saudi Arabia to spend the New Year with his family. A statement released by his press office said upon his arrival from the United States, the prime minister contacted President Michel Suleiman and discussed with him the current developments.

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Informed Sources Deny King Abdullah to Dispatch Son to Beirut, Damascus

Informed sources denied to pan-Arab daily al-Hayat that Saudi King Abdullah will soon dispatch his son Prince Abdul Aziz to Beirut and Damascus.

Al-Akhbar newspaper said Wednesday that Abdullah will send his son to Lebanon and Syria to "finalize the compromise" on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

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Sources: Hariri Accepted Saudi-Syrian Initiative but Other Party Retracted Vows

Prime Minister Saad Hariri has reportedly accepted the settlement proposed by Saudi Arabia and Syria but the March 8 forces did not take any step forward.

Sources close to Hariri told pan-Arab daily al-Hayat in remarks published Thursday that the premier "accepted the Saudi-Syrian deal but unfortunately, the other side has until now made no positive step."

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Ros-Lehtinen Accuses Obama of Offering Concessions to Syria which 'Destabilizes' Lebanon

Republican Florida lawmaker Ileana Ros-Lehtinen criticized U.S. President Barack Obama's move to appoint an ambassador to Damascus, accusing him of offering concessions to a country that is "destabilizing" Lebanon.

"During the past two years, Syria has continued to sponsor violent extremism and pursue dangerous weapons programs, and has also supplied long-range missiles to Hizbullah and reasserted its destabilizing influence in Lebanon at the expense of that nation's sovereignty," Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement after Obama bypassed Congress to name Robert Ford as ambassador.

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Al-Mustaqbal Sources: March 8 Ministers Should End Animosity with People's Interests

Al-Mustaqbal movement officials confirmed that President Michel Suleiman and Premier Saad Hariri were making strong efforts to hold a cabinet session immediately after New Year.

The sources told pan-Arab daily al-Hayat in remarks published Wednesday that there are now more than 500 items on the cabinet agenda and most of them are linked to people's daily lives.

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Harb Accuses March 8 of Seeking Total Defeat of March 14 in Return for Overcoming Crisis

Labor Minister Butros Harb ruled out on Wednesday a possible agreement between Riyadh and Damascus to resolve the Lebanese deadlock based on the current proposals.

"As if it is required to announce the total defeat of the March 14 forces in return for overcoming the crisis," Harb told Voice of Lebanon, Voice of Freedom and Dignity radio station.

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