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Hizbullah Delegation Visits Bkirki and al-Rahi: We Haven’t Tackled Issue of Arms

The head of Hizbullah's parliamentary bloc MP Mohammed Raad expressed hope on Friday that the party would resume dialogue with Bkirki and consolidate ties.

Raad visited Bkirki at the head of a Hizbullah delegation to congratulate Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on his election.

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2,000 Lebanese Flee Abidjan While Many of Them Cannot Afford to Leave

The Lebanese Ambassador to the Ivory Coast Ali Ajami assured that the Lebanese expatriates in the African country are safe and they are not being targeted in the violence.

He told As Safir in remarks published on Friday: “The situation is difficult and worrying, but it is not as dramatic as the media is making it seem.”

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WikiLeaks: Hamadeh Says Elias Murr Playing on Both Sides of the Fence, Trying to Save Himself Politically

MP Marwan Hamadeh accused Defense Minister Elias Murr of “playing on both sides of the fence” in the political divide on Lebanon, said a leaked U.S. Embassy cable published exclusively in Al-Akhbar on Friday.

He said in the August 1, 2006, WikiLeaks cable that Murr believed that Hizbullah would be victorious in a Lebanese civil war and “he is trying to save himself politically on the internal scene that would be established after a war.”

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WikiLeaks: Sfeir Expressed Concern over Shiites Displaced in 2006 War

Former Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir has reportedly informed ex-U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman during the 2006 war about his concern over displaced Shiites, saying they should return to their homes.

According to a WikiLeaks cable published by al-Akhbar daily on Friday, Sfeir expressed his concern over Shiites fleeing the bombing in the south and residing in Beirut and Mount Lebanon during a meeting with Feltman in Bkirki on August 3, 2006.

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WikiLeaks: Geagea Says Turning Hizbullah into Internal Problem Key to Disarming it

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea believed that turning Hizbullah into an internal Lebanese problem will pave the way to its disarmament, revealed a leaked U.S. Embassy cable published exclusively in Al-Akhbar on Friday.

Dated July 25, 2006, the WikiLeaks cable also quoted Geagea as saying that a ceasefire in the July 2006 war that does not call for the party’s disarmament will “inevitably lead to the renewal of the hostilities between Hizbullah and Israel.”

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UNIFIL Marks 33rd Anniversary of Presence in the South

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon held a ceremony at the mission headquarters in Naqoura on Friday to mark the 33rd anniversary of its presence in southern Lebanon, UNIFIL said in a statement.

Peacekeepers representing the 34 contingents that make up UNIFIL participated in the ceremony. Attending were representatives from the Lebanese armed and security forces, local mayors, community officials, as well as senior diplomats, the statement said.

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Asarta Confirms that UNIFIL Protested to Israel Over Stone Attack

UNIFIL Commander Maj. Gen. Alberto Asarta has confirmed that the peacekeepers protested to Israel’s Northern Command the pelting with stones on international troops from the other side of the border.

The stones thrown at peacekeepers from the Israeli side across the technical fence and the Blue Line on Wednesday and Thursday were “isolated incidents that could happen at any time,” Asarta told As Safir daily in remarks published Friday.

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Berri: No Foreign Obstacle to Cabinet Formation Process

Speaker Nabih Berri has denied that any foreign meddling was delaying the cabinet formation process saying the obstacles were purely local.

In remarks to As Safir daily published Friday, Berri refused to set a date for the formation of the government saying that the actual process began after the March 14 alliance’s rally at the Martyrs Square last Sunday.

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Dispute over Shape and Representation Delays Cabinet Formation

A meeting between Premier-designate Najib Miqati and representatives of the March 8 alliance’s leaders did not make major progress on resolving the cabinet formation deadlock, media reports said Friday.

Miqati met on Thursday with the Free Patriotic Movement leader’s envoy, Caretaker Minister Jebran Bassil, and the assistants of the Hizbullah leader and the speaker, respectively Hussein Khalil and MP Ali Hassan Khalil.

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U.S. Lawmaker Rejects Aiding Lebanese Army if Hizbullah is ‘Calling the Shots’

A high-ranking Republican legislator has said that the U.S. Congress should cut off funding for the Lebanese army if Hizbullah plays “even a minor role” in Premier-designate Najib Miqati’s government.

Representative Steve Chabot of Ohio, chairman of the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, told The Daily Star in an interview published Friday that Congress should not donate U.S. taxpayer money to Lebanon if the assistance winds up under Hizbullah’s control.

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