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Dutch Embassy Confirms Two Diplomats Briefly Kidnapped in Lebanon

Two Dutch diplomats were briefly kidnapped last month in eastern Lebanon’s Bekaa valley and handed over to Syrian authorities across the border before being freed, the Dutch embassy in Beirut said Thursday.

"The two diplomats were stopped at a public road north of Baalbek by local people on May 24," Hans Peter van der Woude, the deputy head of mission at the Dutch embassy, told Agence France Presse.

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Miqati-Aoun Bicker over International Resolutions, False Witnesses

The differences between PM Najib Miqati and Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun during the process of the cabinet formation might be reflected on the policy statement, al-Liwaa daily reported Thursday.

It said Miqati wants to include a statement that Lebanon remains committed to international resolutions, including 1701, in the ministerial statement but the FPM rejects a reference to any Security Council resolution.

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Israel Ready for Negotiations if Lebanon Recognizes its Existence

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor said that if the new Lebanese cabinet recognizes the existence of the Israeli state then “negotiations will be launched immediately,” the al-Rai Kuwaiti newspaper reported on Thursday from the German Press Agency-DPA.

He noted that the Israeli Foreign Ministry statement, issued on Wednesday, “doesn’t signify a call for immediate negotiations.”

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Cabinet Policy Statement to Focus on People’s Concerns

The first meeting for the committee charged with drafting the new government’s policy statement was held at the Grand Serail on Thursday under Prime Minister Najib Miqati.

Voice of Lebanon radio reported that ministers Walid al-Daouq and Jebran Bassil joined the committee.

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Miqati at Grand Serail after 6 Years: Lebanon Committed to International Resolutions

Prime Minister Najib Miqati, who on Thursday entered the Grand Serail for the first time in six years, reiterated that his cabinet will not confront the international community.

“Lebanon is not in a confrontation with the Western community nor the international community,” Miqati told pan-Arab radio station Sawa.

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Wahhab’s Personal Bodyguard Accused of Collaborating with Israel

Tawheed Movement leader Wiam Wahhab’s personal bodyguard has been charged with collaborating with Israel, including participating directly and indirectly in assassinations against Hizbullah fighters, reported al-Akhbar newspaper on Thursday.

The accused, Jalal A., was suspected by Hizbullah of working with Israel after noticing his suspicious behavior during Wahhab’s visits to party officials in Beirut’s southern suburbs, a Hizbullah stronghold.

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Mustaqbal Newspaper: Ministers’ Black Suits ‘Salute’ Black Shirts

Al-Mustaqbal newspaper, mouthpiece of Saad Hariri’s al-Mustaqbal movement, reported on Thursday that the commemorative photograph of the new cabinet was aimed at “saluting” the “Black Shirts,” in reference to Hizbullah.

The dark color worn by the ministers was “an obvious violation of the protocol of wearing white suits” during official occasions in the summer.

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Miqati to Kick off Regional Tour after Confidence Vote

Prime Minister Najib Miqati is expected to kick off a regional tour that would include Syria, Saudi Arabia and Turkey after his new cabinet receives parliament’s vote of confidence.

As Safir daily said Monday that Damascus would be Miqati’s first stop. The premier might also visit France, it said.

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Miqati’s Cabinet to Hold Sessions Twice a Week over ‘Accumulated’ Issues

Prime Minister Najib Miqati’s cabinet would most probably hold sessions twice a week to compensate for the five-month political deadlock that left major issues unsolved, ministerial sources told An Nahar daily on Thursday.

There has been a massive accumulation of daily, managerial and economic problems, the sources said.

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Arslan to be Most Probably Replaced with Kheireddine as State Minister

Lebanese Democratic Party leader Talal Arslan rejects to return to Premier Najib Miqati’s cabinet and is considering the nomination of his relative Marwan Kheireddine to replace him as state minister, sources close to the MP said.

An Nahar daily reported Thursday that Druze leader Walid Jumblat and Miqati discussed the issue during a meeting they held the day before. Efforts are underway to convince him not to give up his post and that he apologizes from Miqati over his remarks.

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