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ISG Urges Govt. to Adopt 'Substantial, Credible and Comprehensive' Reforms

The International Support Group for Lebanon (ISG) on Thursday urged Lebanon’s new government to swiftly adopt a ministerial policy statement with the “necessary substantial, credible and comprehensive policy package of measures and reforms that can address the demands of the Lebanese people.”

“Their timely and decisive implementation will be essential to stopping and reversing the deepening crises facing the country and its citizens,” the ISG said in a statement.

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Give the Government a Chance, Says Bassil

Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Jebran Bassil, who is also a former foreign minister who has been a frequent target of protesters in crisis-hit Lebanon, said Thursday he understands the people want change, but said he's not going anywhere until voters drive him out.

Bassil was officially replaced as foreign minister this week with the appointment of a new technocratic government backed by his party and the allied Hizbullah group. He said the new team should get right to work pushing for reform -- and demanded results in a reasonable amount of time.

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Security Walls Erected outside Beirut's Nejmeh Square

Cement security walls were on Thursday erected at the entrances to the street leading to the Lebanese parliament in central Beirut, the site of recent clashes.

The blast walls, some painted with Lebanese flags, were installed as security forces guarded the area.

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U.S. Senator Drafting Lebanon Sanctions over Amer Fakhoury

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen is drafting sanctions legislation to hold Lebanese officials accountable for jailing Amer Fakhoury, a former official at the Khiam prison, which was operated by the Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army militia.

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Bassil Feels Heat in Testy Davos Debate

Former foreign minister Jebran Bassil on Thursday faced accusations over his personal wealth and record at the top of a country mired in corruption, during a hugely uncomfortable appearance at the Davos economic forum.

Bassil, the son-in-law of President Michel Aoun, lost his post as foreign minister when a new government was finally announced this week after months of street protests over a collapsing economy.

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Paris Urges New Govt. to 'Work Collectively', Take 'Urgent Measures'

The French foreign ministry on Thursday noted that “the difficult situation that Lebanon is going through requires its new government to give the priority to taking urgent measures that can restore confidence.”

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UK Ambassador Urges Govt. to Show 'Commitment to Reforms'

British Ambassador to Lebanon Chris Rampling met Thursday with Prime Minister Hassan Diab at the Grand Serail.

After the meeting, Rampling said: “The formation of a new government is an important step for Lebanon. The UK has been consistent in calling for the urgent formation of an effective and credible government, which reflects the aspirations of the Lebanese people.”

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New FM Denies Announcing Walid al-Muallem's 'Death'

Lebanon’s new foreign minister Nassif Hitti on Thursday denied announcing the “death” of Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem.

“He has not used the account carrying his name for the past three and a half years and he has not created any Twitter account recently,” a statement issued by his office said.

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New Interior Minister Says He Won't Permit Attacks on Security Forces

Lebanon's new interior minister said Thursday he won't permit attacks on security forces amid angry rioting that has gripped the country's capital amid a deepening economic crisis.

Mohammed Fahmi spoke during a handover ceremony from the outgoing minister, two days after a new government was formed. That ended a three-month political vacuum on the heels of nationwide protests against the country's long serving political class.

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Ambassador Tells Diab Switzerland Ready to Help on Capital Flight Reports

Swiss Ambassador to Lebanon Monika Schmutz Kirgoz on Thursday held talks with Prime Minister Hassan Diab at the Grand Serail.

Commenting on reports that a number of Lebanese politicians have recently transferred billions of dollars to Swiss banks despite the de facto capital controls imposed by Lebanese banks, the ambassador said her country is willing to investigate the claims should the Lebanese government request help.

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