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Berri-Miqati Contacts Severed: Ali Hasan Khalil Absent from Cabinet Talks

Speaker Nabih Berri’s advisor, MP Ali Hasan Khalil, boycotted on Saturday the latest “mediatory” meeting with Prime Minister-designate Najib Miqati, leaving it up to Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s advisor, Hussein Khalil, to complete the mission of holding talks with Miqati to remove obstacles hindering the government formation.

Berri reportedly left his Ain al-Tineh residence in Beirut and headed to the South on Friday without meeting with the premier-designate as was scheduled after the later issued a statement announcing that he will not take part in the June 8 parliamentary session that the speaker had called for.

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Assad Supporters Rally in Beirut’s Southern Suburbs

Some 700 Syrians and Lebanese staged a rally in Beirut’s southern suburbs on Saturday to show their support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian residents of Lebanon organized the demonstration in the southern suburb of Hay al-Sellum, a bastion of Hizbullah, to display their support for Assad and his late father and predecessor, Hafez al-Assad.

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Higher Islamic Council Urges Respect for Cabinet Decisions

The Higher Islamic Council on Saturday voiced concern over the delay in the formation of the cabinet and called for the respect of decisions taken by the government.

After its weekly meeting at Dar al-Fatwa, the council reiterated the need to remain committed to nationalistic stances in terms of the preservation of national unity and the state and its constitutional institutions.

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5 Men Escape Baabda Detention Center

Five men have broken out of a detention center at Baabda’s Justice Palace, the state-run National News Agency said Saturday.

The five men made their escape at dawn Saturday after sawing a window with a sharp object, NNA said.

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Britain’s Ambassador Hopes for Quick Formation of Cabinet

British Ambassador Frances Mary Guy hoped on Saturday that the cabinet would be formed soon and said that Lebanon is the most stable country in the Middle East.

During a tour to Hasbaya, Guy said: “This country is the most stable now in the region and it is badly in need for a government which we would like to see tomorrow or after tomorrow.”

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Hizbullah Accuses U.S. of ‘Poisoning’ Cabinet Formation Process

Hizbullah accused the Untied States on Saturday of hindering the formation of the new Lebanese government and using the international tribunal as a tool to change the balance of power in the country.

Deputy head of Hizbullah’s executive council Sheikh Nabil Qaouq said: “The international tribunal has become a political tool in the local political balance of power that the U.S. and its followers in Lebanon are using to confront the current parliamentary majority.”

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Miqati Defends Decision to Boycott June 8 Session

Premier-designate Najib Miqati announced his boycott of the June 8 parliamentary session out of fears that if he attended the meeting he would be accused of procrastination in the formation of the new cabinet, his sources said.

The sources told An Nahar daily published Saturday that Miqati made his decision to shrug off accusations that he prefers giving executive authorities to parliament rather than speeding up the government formation process.

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Geagea Hints that Jumblat Should Review his Stance, Form New Majority

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea has said that the cabinet crisis would be solved only if some blocs reviewed their stances and formed a new parliamentary majority.

“There is no possibility to end the crisis unless some parliamentary blocs reviewed their stances and formed a new majority that quickly works on holding things together by forming a cabinet and filling the current void,” Geagea told the Saudi Okaz daily published Saturday.

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Agriculture, Health Ministries Confirm No E. Coli Case Reported in Lebanon

Caretaker Agriculture Minister Hussein Hajj Hassan and Director-General of the Health Ministry Walid Ammar denied on Saturday that there are E. coli cases in Lebanon.

Ammar told Voice of Lebanon radio station that Lebanon has an “active system that detects epidemics, and doctors always report any case they receive.”

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Suleiman Hopes Miqati Would Form Cabinet before June 8

Premier-designate Najib Miqati did not propose a cabinet line-up to President Michel Suleiman during their meeting on Friday but the head of state hoped that the government would be formed by mid next week, presidential sources told As Safir daily on Saturday.

The sources expressed optimism at the latest consultations aimed at forming the government. They expected results soon if the “positive atmosphere” remained.

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