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Cabinet Formation Awaits Comprehensive Deal on Lineup

The formation of the new government is still awaiting major agreement on the entire line-up despite a preliminary consensus on retired Internal Security Forces Maj. Gen. Marwan Charbel to lead the interior ministry, Baabda palace sources said.

President Michel Suleiman’s visitors told An Nahar newspaper in remarks published Thursday that all sides have a serious intention to end the cabinet deadlock but warned that consultations are carried out to reach agreement on the entire lineup, which means that any snag could further delay the formation of the cabinet.

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Agreement Reached on Nominating Marwan Charbel as Interior Minister

Premier-designate Najib Miqati’s government might witness light over the weekend after agreement was reached on granting the controversial interior ministry portfolio to retired Internal Security Forces Maj. Gen. Marwan Charbel.

Media reports said Thursday that President Michel Suleiman approved to grant the portfolio to Charbel who was among the list of names that Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun had agreed on.

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Jumblat Heads to Syria: Might Discuss Cabinet Formation with Syrian Officials

Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid denied that he had information about the possible formation of the new government in the next 24 hours, hoping that the parties would speed up the process.

“We have to speed up the cabinet formation and to take into consideration the repercussions of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and other issues,” Jumblat said in remarks published in newspapers on Thursday.

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Report: Bellemare Finds New Leads of Syrian Involvement in Hariri Murder

Special Tribunal for Lebanon Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare has reached new leads in his investigation that accuses Syrian officials of involvement in ex-Premier Rafik Hariri’s 2005 assassination, sources in The Hague told Naharnet.

They said Bellemare put his new information in the amended indictment that he filed to pre-trial judge Daniel Fransen last week.

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Progress Made in Govt Formation Talks as Miqati Meets Envoys of Aoun, Nasrallah, Berri

Prime Minister-designate Najib Miqati held talks Wednesday at his residence in Verdun 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 aide Hussein Khalil.

The quadrilateral meeting managed to achieve some progress concerning the cabinet formation process, Free Patriotic Movement's mouthpiece OTV reported. "But that does not mean that the cabinet will see light soon despite the positive atmospheres," the TV station noted.

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Bellemare Spokeswoman: Amendment of Indictment Based on Course Investigation Had Taken

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon prosecutor’s spokeswoman, Sophie Boutaud de la Combe, stated on Wednesday that the new elements added by Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare to the indictment in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri does not mean that what had initially been sent was not good or sufficient.

She told al-Balad newspaper in remarks to be published on Thursday that Bellemare took the decision based on the course the investigation had taken and not at a request by Pre-Trial Judge Daniel Fransen.

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Syria Pressures Lebanon to Prevent Displaced from Entering Lebanese Territory

A security official revealed that Syria is “exerting great pressure on Beirut to prevent displaced Syrians from entering Lebanon,” reported UK’s the Guardian on Tuesday.

It also urged Lebanese authorities to halt alleged arms smuggling to Syrian protesters where the demonstrations have taken on the form of a sectarian rebellion, and not a revolution similar to others that had taken place in the Arab world, it added.

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March 14: March 8 Camp Won't Dare Form Government According to Hizbullah's Standards

The March 14 General Secretariat stated on Wednesday that the March 8 camp "will not dare" form a government according to Hizbullah's demands.

It said after its weekly meeting that a Hizbullah-led Cabinet would set Lebanon in a confrontation with the international community by "validating the illegitimate arms and ending the cooperation protocol with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon."

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Maronite Bishops Call for Forming Government Capable of Thwarting Dangers against Lebanon

The Maronite Bishops Council stressed on Wednesday the need to form a government capable of tackling the citizens’ concerns and thwarting dangers against Lebanon.

It said after its monthly meeting headed by Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi: “We hope that Thursday’s spiritual summit will provide a push towards achieving national unity and that the gatherers would seek to bolster coexistence between all sects.”

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Juppe Awaits Cabinet Formation, Saniora Supports Arab Revolts

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has stressed on France’s commitment to Lebanese independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“We await and support a government that responds to the demands of the Lebanese people, according to the Taef accord and does not refute international agreements,” Juppe said on Tuesday after holding talks with head of al-Mustaqbal Movement bloc leader Fouad Saniora in the presence of Lebanon's ambassador to Paris Boutros Assaker.

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