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Arslan Insists on Getting a Portfolio

Lebanese Democratic Party leader MP Talal Arslan said that a meeting held between March 8 officials in parliament on Wednesday focused on solving the obstacles that are delaying the cabinet formation.

Arslan told As Safir newspaper on Thursday that hints that a dispute between President Michel Suleiman and Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun was obstructing the formation of the government are “not true.”

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Miqati Expected to Visit Suleiman, Names of President’s Ministers Left for Last Minute

Premier-designate Najib Miqati is expected to visit Baabda palace on Thursday to inform President Michel Suleiman about the latest developments in the cabinet formation process.

An Nahar newspaper said that Miqati held an extensive telephone conversation with Suleiman on Wednesday to update them him about the results of his talks with Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun at parliament and a meeting he held later in the day with Caretaker Minister Jebran Bassil, Speaker Nabih Berri’s aide MP Ali Hassan Khalil and Hassan Khalil, who is Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s assistant.

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Reports: Eight Officials Met in Parliament in ‘Calculated Step’ to Restore Ties with Berri

A meeting held in parliament between top March 8 officials was planned and aimed at consolidating the new parliamentary majority which hasn’t been able to form a cabinet since Premier-designate Najib Miqati’s nomination in January, media reports Thursday.

The meeting was held on Wednesday on the sidelines of a legislative session and gathered Speaker Nabih Berri, Miqati, Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun, Progressive Socialist Party chief MP Walid Jumblat, head of Hizbullah’s Loyalty to the Resistance bloc MP Mohammed Raad, Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh, head of the Lebanese Democratic Party MP Talal Arslan and chief of the Syrian Social National Party Assaad Hardan.

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Miqati and Aoun Agree Not to Impose or Veto Any Name in Cabinet

Caretaker Energy Minister Jebran Bassil has unveiled that Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun and Premier-designate Najib Miqati agreed not to veto any candidate proposed by the other to cabinet seats.

“We completed the distribution (of shares) and portfolios and we reached the final stage which is the stage of names whereby no name would be imposed or rejected or vetoed,” Bassil told An Nahar daily in remarks published Thursday.

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Cabinet’s Photo Expected to be Taken Soon as Lineup Reaches Final Stages

The protocol picture marking the advent of Najib Miqati's government could be taken at the doorsteps of the Baabda Palace over the weekend after major parties overcame the main hurdles preventing the formation of the cabinet.

On Thursday, the media sounded optimistic about the possible formation of the government in the next few days after the leaders of the March 8 forces held ice-breaking talks a day earlier.

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AUB Students Unease at ex-World Bank Chief Honorary Degree

Lecturers and students at the American University of Beirut (AUB) have launched a petition against honoring former World Bank president James Wolfensohn, accusing him of supporting Israel.

The petition, entitled "Not in our name: AUB faculty, staff and students object to honoring James Wolfensohn," had by Wednesday garnered the signatures of 90 faculty members and was being rapidly disseminated on Facebook.

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Lebanese-Australian Gets Re-trial over Jihad Handbook

A Lebanese-born former Qantas cabin cleaner jailed in Australia for producing a do-it-yourself jihad manual Thursday had his conviction quashed by an appeals court and faces a re-trial.

Belal Khazaal was sentenced to a maximum 12 years in prison in September 2009 after a jury found him guilty of knowingly making a document connected with assistance in a terrorist act.

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Miqati Holds 'Ice-Breaker Meeting' with Bassil, Two Khalils

Prime Minister-designate Najib Miqati held a meeting Wednesday evening with caretaker Energy and Water Minister Jebran Bassil, Speaker Nabih Berri’s political aide MP Ali Hassan Khalil and Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s Political Assistant Hussein Khalil, LBC television reported.

Earlier Wednesday, a meeting was held at the parliament between Miqati, Speaker Berri, Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat, Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun and Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh.

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Credit Libanais Bank Robber Arrested

Internal security forces in the Bekaa succeeded on Wednesday in arresting the head of a five-member gang responsible for the theft of LL 230 million from a Credit Libanais Bank vehicle less than 48 hours ago.

The arrest was made after the security forces raided the suspect’s home town of Hour Taala.

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Kabbara: We Will Not Stand Idly by as Syrian People are Massacred

Mustaqbal bloc MP Mohammed Kabbara voiced on Wednesday his support for the Syrian people and their plight against the ruling regime.

He said in a statement: “We will not stand idly by as the Syrian people are massacred and say that we will remain neutral.”

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