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Matar Says Bkirki Spiritual Summit to Focus on Baabda Vacuum, Protests

The Maronite bishop of Beirut, Boulos Matar, said Friday that a Christian-Muslim summit scheduled to be held in Bkirki next week is aimed at stressing the importance of swiftly electing a president and discussing the demands of anti-government demonstrators.

Matar told al-Joumhouria newspaper that the summit which will be held on Monday will focus on two main issues – the election of a head of state as soon as possible and the demands of the people.

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Berri Says he is Trying to Give Reconciliation a Chance

Speaker Nabih Berri has said that he urged Prime Minister Tammam Salam to procrastinate in calling for a cabinet session to “give a chance for reconciliation” among the bickering parties.

Berri's press office said Thursday that he telephoned Salam asking him to wait before inviting the government to convene to give a chance to consultations after Free Patriotic Movement, Hizbullah, Marada Movement and Tashnag party ministers boycotted the session.

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Jumblat Rejects Aoun's Exclusion over Cabinet Decrees

Progressive Socialist Party chief MP Walid Jumblat rejected the exclusion of Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun from political decision-making to avoid further tension.

“Aoun should not be shut out,” Jumblat told As Safir daily published on Friday. “I understand his position from the signature of the decrees and I believe that some of them should be approved after consulting him.”

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Bassil Wins FPM Presidency Uncontested, Says 'Consensus is a Form of Democracy'

Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil won uncontested the presidency of the Free Patriotic Movement on Thursday, describing the “consensus” that contributed to his victory as a “form of democracy” aimed at keeping the FPM “strong.”

Bassil will succeed his father-in-law and the movement's founder MP Michel Aoun.

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Aoun Visits al-Rahi, Receives Phone Call from Jumblat

Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun held talks Thursday in Bkirki with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi.

The two-hour meeting tackled “the general situations in the country, especially the presidential election and the work of the government, in addition to the regional situations and their repercussions on Lebanon,” state-run National News Agency said.

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Cautious Calm in Ain el-Hilweh, Night Clashes Kill Two

A cautious calm prevailed early Thursday in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh after an exchange of fire overnight between armed rivals that left two dead, the state-run National News Agency reported.

Clashes between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement and the Jund al-Sham Islamist group intensified overnight in the al-Fawqani street.

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Report: Berri Seeking to Launch Consultations among Rival Leaders

Speaker Nabih Berri has been holding contacts with Lebanese political parties to revive the all-party talks that he had launched in 2006, al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Thursday.

Berri has been holding consultations to bring the rival politicians on the dialogue table either in Ain el-Tineh or in parliament, the daily said.

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Al-Rahi Following up Controversy on Cabinet Decrees

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi is closely following up the issue of decrees that have been signed without the approval of all cabinet members, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Thursday.

The newspaper said that MP Ibrahim Kanaan from Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun's Change and Reform bloc met with al-Rahi in Bkirki on Tuesday and discussed the issue with him.

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Asiri Says Latest Travel Warning Linked to Recent Developments

Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awadh Asiri has said that the recent travel warning issued for Lebanon came out of Riyadh's keenness on the safety of its citizens.

Asiri told pan-Arab daily al-Hayat published on Thursday that Saudi Arabia fears its citizens could be harmed in the latest events that shook the country.

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Govt. Refers Waste Management File to Municipalities, Continues to Search for Landfill

The cabinet agreed on Thursday to refer the trash disposal file to municipalities during a “productive” session that witnessed the boycott of ministers from the Free Patriotic Movement, Hizbullah, and their allies.

The government decided during the meeting that lasted over three hours to refer the waste management issue to municipalities that will agree to handle it.

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