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Al-Rahi Urges 'Immediate' Election of New President: I don't Nominate or Exclude Anyone

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi demanded MPs on Wednesday to “immediately elect a new president based on whom they think is the strongest” candidate.

"I don't have any (favored) presidential candidate and I don't nominate or exclude anyone,” al-Rahi told the diplomats of the five permanent member countries of the U.N. Security Council.

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Wahhab's Arab Tawhid Party Closes its Syria Offices

The Arab Tawhid Party announced on Wednesday that it was closing all of its offices in Syria in light of the emerging reports of a spike in clashes in predominantly Druze region of Swieda in the neighboring country, said the National News Agency.

The media office of party leader, former minister Wiam Wahhab, added that the Arab Tawhid Party will no longer carry out any activity in Syria.

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Lebanese Kidnapped in Nigeria Released for Ransom

A Lebanese expatriate, who was kidnapped in Nigeria, was released for ransom, reported the National News Agency on Wednesday.

It said that Saadallah al-Seqlawi was abducted some ten days ago by gunmen in Nigeria.

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Salam Meets Berri: Competition among Politicians Jeopardizing Lives of Soldiers taken from Arsal

Prime Minister Tammam Salam criticized on Wednesday the tense political rhetoric between various political powers, saying that “they do not help Lebanon in confronting the security danger.”

He said after meeting Speaker Nabih Berri at Ain el-Tineh: “Competition among politicians is putting at risk the lives of the soldiers and policemen taken captive in Arsal.”

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Two Kids Struck by Car and Killed

Two children were killed when they were struck by a vehicle in Beirut, the state-run National News Agency reported on Wednesday.

NNA said that Fatima Wehbe Hamdan was driving her car on the Beirut Airport road when she hit two-year-old Zakaria Osama al-Tufaili and Sara Abbas Wehbi, 5.

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France Detains Accomplice of Napoleon Hotel Potential Suicide Bomber

Authorities in Paris have detained a man suspected of being the accomplice of a Frenchman who is originally from the Comoros islands and who was arrested in Beirut on charges of having links to the Islamic State of the Iraq and the Levant.

The pan-Arab daily al-Hayat reported on Wednesday that the French suspect, who was detained in Paris, entered Lebanon with Fayez Bouchran, who was arrested by Lebanese authorities in June 20.

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Derbas Says 8,000 Iraqi Refugees in Lebanon

Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas estimated that 8,000 Iraqi refugees fleeing the expansion of the Islamic State in their country have arrived in Lebanon.

“So far 1,000 Iraqi refugees registered with the U.N. refugee agency” UNHCR, Derbas said in comments published in al-Joumhouria newspaper.

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Hujeiri Denies Gunmen Infiltrated Arsal, Slams False 'Rumors'

Head of Arsal Municipality Ali al-Hujeiri denied on Wednesday that Syrian gunmen infiltrated the town after the Lebanese army deployed in the area.

“The rumors are inaccurate,” Hujeiri told al-Liwaa newspaper, calling on those stating the false reports to “have mercy on Arsal and its residents who have been harmed.”

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Report: Jumblat Inquired Christian Officials on Possible Presidential Breakthrough

Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblat has held telephone conversations with Christian leaders ahead of his private visit abroad, An Nahar newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Jumblat inquired on Tuesday the unidentified officials on the possibility of reaching a breakthrough in the presidential crisis following his return to Beirut, it said.

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Geagea Reiterates Proposal to Withdraw Candidacy, Calls for End of Political Impasse

Lebanese Forces Leader Samir Geagea revealed on Wednesday that he will propose again his solution to the presidential deadlock, stressing that the stalemate should end swiftly.

Geagea said in remarks published in An Nahar newspaper that he will seek with his March 14 allies to suggest anew his solution to end the presidential stalemate.

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