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Mashnouq: No Negotiations with Kidnappers before Written Pledge Not to Kill Captives

Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq stressed that the state will not carry out negotiations with the Islamist kidnappers of servicemen abducted from the northeastern border town of Arsal until it receives a written pledge that they will not be harmed, reported the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat on Saturday.

He told the daily: “We will not hold negotiations until they issue a clear statement that they will halt killing the servicemen.”

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Report: Girault Travels to Tehran, Riyadh as Part of Initiative to Resolve Presidential Deadlock

Director of the department of the Middle East and North Africa at the French Foreign Ministry Jean-François Girault is expected to travel to Iran next week as part of his ongoing efforts to resolve the vacuum in the presidency in Lebanon, reported the daily An Nahar on Saturday.

It said that he will then head to the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh.

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Deputy U.N. Secretary General Travels to Beirut to Tackle Syrian Refugee File

Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Jan Eliasson is scheduled to arrive in Lebanon on Sunday on a three-day visit aimed at discussing the case of Syrian refugees, reported the daily An Nahar on Saturday.

Eliasson will arrive on Sunday for talks with Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Tammam Salam, Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi, and a number of high-ranking officials.

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Gemayel Tours South for First Time since 1983, Highlights Dialogue in Ending Political Disputes

Kataeb Party leader Amin Gemayel embarked on Saturday on a tour of the South, the first such visit since 1983, reported An Nahar daily.

He stressed: “Our solidarity helps preserve our security and stability.”

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2 Arrested over Bhannine Clashes, Another 2 over Ties to Extremist Groups

The Lebanese army said it arrested on Friday two people suspected of attacking the military during recent gunbattles in northern Lebanon.

An army communique said a military unit raided an area in the northern town of Bhannine and arrested Fawaz Ahmed al-Kheir and Musab Mohammed Ali Sharaf.

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Salam Meets Hollande, Final Arms Contracts 'May be Signed in Beirut Next Week'

The signing of the final contracts for equipping the Lebanese army with French weapons might take place “next week in Beirut, not in France,” a media report said Friday, as Prime Minister Tammam Salam met French President Francois Hollande at the Élysée Palace.

“After the contracts are signed, the file will be sent to Saudi Arabia for approval and it would then pay 20% of the total amount of the grant so that the delivery process can begin,” LBCI television reported.

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Audeh Marks Tueni's Assassination Anniversary with Calls for Unity

Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Beirut Elias Audeh stressed on Friday the importance of unity and coexistence in Lebanon amid the ongoing developments.

“A new page has opened with a golden chance for us to fortify our unity, which safeguards our independence and sovereignty,” Audeh said during a mass at the St. Demettrius Church in Beirut's Ashrafiyeh district on the 9th anniversary of the assassination of MP Gebran Tueni.

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Bogdanov Holds More Meetings with Lebanese Officials

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov resumed on Friday talks with Lebanese officials on the presidential impasse following his return from Syria.

Bogdanov met early Friday with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi in Bkirki.

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Israeli Military Official Says New Security Plan Aims to Counter Hizbullah Threat

The head of the Israeli army's planning directorate has said the military will formulate in the coming months a new security plan to counter Hizbullah's growing arsenal.

In any future war, Hizbullah’s rockets will be “much more precise, (possess) much larger warheads” than Israel has seen in the past, The Jerusalem Post quoted Maj. Gen. Nimrod Shefer as saying at a diplomatic conference.

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Senior U.S. Defense Official Highlights Battle against Terrorism during Visit to Lebanon

Visiting U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Policy Matthew Spence discussed with high-ranking Lebanese security the needs of the army and the security operations carried out across Lebanon to confront the repercussions of the war raging in neighboring country Syria.

Spence held talks with Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq and Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji on Thursday at the head of an accompanying delegation.

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