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Miqati’s Circles: Excessive Optimism Aimed at Pressuring PM-Designate

Prime Minister-designate Najib Miqati’s circles questioned the excessive optimism surrounding the possible announcement of a new government, saying that they are “out of place.”

They added however that the circumstances are positive, “but more time is needed for consultations over a number of issues.”

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Miqati Forgives Hariri: His Actions Didn’t Fit his Position

Premier-designate Najib Miqati told An Nahar newspaper on Saturday that he forgives caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri for treating him inappropriately after his appointment as PM-designate in January.

“I forgive him (Hariri) for how he treated me, and I hope that he recognizes in the future that these actions didn’t suit his position and I didn’t deserve it,” he said.

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Suleiman Waiting Last Cabinet Lineup Draft to Announce his Candidates

President Michel Suleiman is waiting for Premiere-designate Najib Miqati’s cabinet lineup to express his opinion about it and to add his share of ministers, An Nahar newspaper reported on Saturday.

“Suleiman told the two Khalils on Thursday (Speaker Nabih Berri's advisor MP Ali Hasan Khalil and Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's advisor Hussein Khalil) that he will not announce any name before he examines the final draft of the formation,” the newspaper said.

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New Govt. Hurdles: Suleiman’s Veto, Arslan’s Demand, Naming 6th Sunni Minister

Three new obstacles have risen in the government formation process culminating in differences over naming the sixth Sunni minister, Lebanese Democratic Party leader MP Talal Arslan’s demand for a Cabinet portfolio, and President Michel Suleiman’s refusal to reappoint Adnan Sayyed Hussein as minister

The dispute over the sixth Sunni minister arose when Speaker Nabih Berri’s advisor MP Ali Hasan Khalil and Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s political advisor Hussein al-Khalil held talks with Prime Minister-designate Najib Miqati on Friday afternoon.

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Hizbullah Strongly Denies Involvement in Syria Clashes

Hizbullah on Friday strongly denied media reports accusing the Shiite party of being involved in the ongoing clashes in Syria, describing them as “rumors aimed at inciting sectarian tensions.”

“Lately, some Arab and Israeli media outlets and a number of websites have been circulating rumors accusing Hizbullah of being involved in the military confrontations taking place in some Syrian regions,” said Hizbullah in a statement.

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New Majority Leaders to Meet Friday Night after Miqati-Khalils Talks

Premier-designate Najib Miqati held talks Friday afternoon with MP Ali Hassan Khalil, Speaker Nabih Berri’s aide, and Hussein Khalil, Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s aide, Al-Manar television reported.

For its part, MTV reported that an agreement has not yet been reached over the sixth Maronite candidate for the new cabinet, noting that discussions were still ongoing concerning several portfolios.

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Assad May Task Jumblat with Mediating with Turkey

Thursday’s meeting between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat did not focus on the issue of Lebanon’s cabinet formation process, but rather at the possibility of tasking the Druze leader with “mediating between Syria and Turkey,” whose once warm relations have grown colder over Damascus’ violent crackdown on protesters, MTV reported Friday.

Meanwhile, OTV reported that Assad told Jumblat that “Syria has overcome the dangerous phase and that it has started to contain the situation caused by the conspiracy plotted by some major world powers and Arab states.”

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Ex-World Bank Chief Cancels AUB Visit after Faculty Members Petition

Former World Bank chief James Wolfensohn on Friday canceled a scheduled keynote address at the American University of Beirut, amid accusations by the AUB faculty that he supported Israel.

"AUB regrets to announce that Sir James Wolfensohn, out of concern that his presence at the June commencement ceremony would distract from the celebratory nature of the event, has decided that he will not attend," read a statement released by the university.

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Anti-Assad Syrian Students Stage Demo in Tripoli

Hundreds of students gathered amid tight security in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli on Friday to demand that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down.

"Take our blood if you want, but go," chanted around 400 students from the state-run Lebanese University -- including 50 Syrians -- who had gathered in the port city of Tripoli.

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Germany Extends its UNIFIL Contingent Mandate for a Year

The German parliament has overwhelmingly extended for another year the mandate of its peacekeeping force operating as part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.

The German embassy said in a statement on Friday that the parliament decided to keep the number of its troops at the current level of 300.

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