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March 8: No Cabinet is Looming in Horizon

The March 8 forces have expressed pessimism at solving the cabinet deadlock soon, saying contacts between Premier-designate Najib Miqati and the different parties of the March 8 forces have been in a standstill since last Wednesday.

The circles of the new parliamentary majority told An Nahar daily published Sunday that although Miqati stayed in touch with Hizbullah and Speaker Nabih Berri’s Amal movement, the different sides are not expected to meet with the premier-designate next week.

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Miqati Resumes Consultations on Monday, his Circles Hint about Politicians-Technocrats Cabinet

Premier-designate Najib Miqati held talks with top Lebanese official away from the media spotlight over the weekend in a bid to end the impasse which he claims is the result of lingering by the different parties of the March 8 forces to provide him with the names they suggest for the portfolios that are part of their shares in the new cabinet.

Sources following Miqati’s consultations told An Nahar daily in remarks published Sunday that the premier-designate was still waiting for the list of names that the new parliamentary majority should suggest to him in accordance with the constitution.

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Paris Says Cabinet Deadlock Linked to Syria as West Expresses Readiness to Help

The standstill in the cabinet is the result of the upheaval in Syria, western sources said, stressing they remain adamant that Premier-designate Najib Miqati was nominated after a coup by the new parliamentary majority against Caretaker Premier Saad Hariri’s government.

Paris informed Miqati’s advisor Joe Issa al-Khoury that it insists on its stance that the nomination came after “a forceful coup that toppled the cabinet that had emerged from the Doha accord,” French sources told pan-Arab daily al-Hayat in remarks published Sunday.

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Berri: My Busy Schedule Prevented Me from Meeting Feltman

Speaker Nabih Berri stated on Saturday that his busy schedule prevented him from meeting with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman on Friday.

He explained to reporters: “I was in the South and it helped me see the clear picture when he visited various officials, whom we all trust.”

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Miqati Meets Shebani, Stresses Importance of Implementing Agreements between Lebanon and Iran

Prime Minister-designate Najib Miqati stressed on Saturday the need to bolster Lebanese-Iranian bilateral ties and implement agreements between the two sides.

He made his statements after holding talks with visiting Iranian deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed Reza Shebani.

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Nasrallah Meets Shebani, to Issue Clear Positions on Syria during Wednesday’s Speech

Hizbullah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah held talks with visiting Iranian deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed Reza Shebani and his accompanying delegation that included Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Ghazanfar Rokn-Abadi.

The Hizbullah chief is scheduled to make a television appearance on the occasion of Liberation Day on Wednesday during which he will issue “clear positions” on Syria, informed Lebanese sources told the Saudi Okaz newspaper in remarks published on Saturday.

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Feltman Ends Beirut Visit Leaving behind him Conflicting Reports on Whether he Addressed Government Formation

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman ended his visit to Lebanon on Saturday after holding talks with a number of Lebanese officials on the government formation process, including President Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister-designate Najib Miqati.

A U.S. Embassy statement said on Friday that he reiterated the U.S.'s view that the international community will assess its relationship with any new government of Lebanon based on the make-up of the next cabinet, its ministerial statement and the actions it takes in regard to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and Lebanon's other international obligations.

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False Witness in Hariri Assassination Returns to Syria from Roumieh Prison

Akram Shakib Murad, a Syrian false witness in the investigation into the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, has been handed over to the Syrian judicial authorities after his sentence in Roumieh prison ended, reported As Safir newspaper on Saturday.

It added that the procedures for his return were conducted quickly, “which reflected a Syrian interest in returning a wanted citizen who had issued a testimony before the international investigation looking into the Hariri assassination.”

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Hariri Doesn’t Recognize Miqati’s Right to Head Government

Caretaker Prime minister Saad Hariri still does not recognize Prime Minister-designate Najib Miqati’s right to head a government, a former diplomat told the daily An Nahar in remarks published on Saturday.

“If he were in Miqati’s place, he would have formed a government that would force all sides to accept the status quo,” he added.

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Hizbullah Accused of Aiding al-Qaida in September 11 Attacks

The families of victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks have filed a lawsuit against Hizbullah and Iran, accusing them of assisting al-Qaida in conducting the attacks, reported the New York Times on Friday.

The lawsuit included testimonies of defectors from Iranian intelligence, whose identities have not been revealed.

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