Lebanon
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Khalil: Export File Must be Reconsidered, 'Cost too High'

Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said on Wednesday that the decision to export Lebanon's trash must be reviewed in light of the huge expenses it entails and the new offer submitted by a Thai based company proposing cheaper prices to solve the eight-month long crisis.

“Regardless of the serious new proposal made by New Boxer Group to export the trash at a cheaper cost than that offered by Britain’s Chinook Urban Mining International, the offer will likely be reevaluated in light of the high costs incurred on the state,” Khalil told al-Akhbar daily on Wednesday

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Cabinet Marred in Controversy over Appointments, Samaha's Trial

The failure to resolve the dispute on the appointment of top military officers will likely compel the Free Patriotic Movement, Hizbullah and Tashnag Party ministers to again boycott a cabinet session scheduled to be held on Thursday.

The same ministers boycotted a session that was held on January 14 because the appointment of top officers at the Military Council was not on the agenda.

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Bassil, Derbas Appease Fears over Employment of Syrian Refugees

Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil and Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas have appeased fears that the donors conference, which is scheduled to be held in London next week, would encourage Syrian refugees to remain in Lebanon and pave way for their naturalization.

The conference has for the first time shown international commitment to consolidate economic and development projects, Bassil told An Nahar daily published on Wednesday.

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TI: Lebanon Continues to Suffer from Rampant Corruption

Lebanon continues to suffer from public sector corruption despite a slight improvement since 2014, graft watchdog Transparency International (TI) said on Wednesday.

Lebanon ranked 123rd with a score of 28 out of a possible 100 in 2015 in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index.

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Man Held near Arsal for Smuggling Money to Outskirts Militants

A Lebanese man was arrested Tuesday near the northeastern border town of Arsal on charges of smuggling funds to the militant groups that are present in the town's outskirts, state-run National News Agency reported.

“Army intelligence agents arrested Abdul Karim al-Hujeiri in the vicinity of the town of Arsal,” NNA said.

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Israel Fears for 'Spy' Vulture Caught in Lebanon

Israel's nature authority said Tuesday that a vulture from one of its reserves had been captured on suspicion of espionage in south Lebanon after flying across the border.

Members of the Israeli public phoned the Israel Nature and Parks Authority to alert it to Facebook reports and pictures of a vulture with an Israeli identification ring and location transmitter captured by residents of the south Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil, INPA spokeswoman Tali Tenenbaum told Agence France-Presse.

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Mustaqbal: Presence of More than One Presidential Candidate Enhances Democracy

Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc noted Tuesday that the presence of two presidential candidates “enhances democratic practice,” urging all parliamentary blocs to attend the February 8 electoral session.

“The bloc reiterates its call for the parliament to end the state of presidential void and quickly elect a president,” said Mustaqbal in a statement issued after its weekly meeting.

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ISF Arrests Ex-Officer for Smuggling Suspects from Brital to Beirut

The Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau detained a former member of the force on charges of smuggling wanted suspects from the eastern Bekaa region to Beirut, it announced in a statement on Tuesday.

It said that retired Brigadier General J. Merhej “abused his former position” to smuggle the suspects from Brital to Beirut.

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Al-Rahi Says Pope Discussing Presidency with Key Parties but Ball in Lebanese Court

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi confirmed Tuesday that Pope Francis is holding consultations with all the regional and international players who can influence the stalled presidential vote in Lebanon while noting that “the Lebanese must play the main role.”

“The Lebanese must make up their minds and be at the level of all people's expectations,” said al-Rahi at Beirut's airport upon his arrival from a visit to the Vatican.

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Kanaan Hopes 'All Sides Would Derive Lessons' from Maarab Meeting

The Change and Reform bloc hoped on Tuesday that the meeting that was held last week between bloc chief MP Michel Aoun and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea would “restore balance” in state institutions in the country.

MP Ibrahim Kanaan said after the bloc's weekly meeting: “We hope that all parties would derive lessons from the Maarab talks to pave the way for a greater understanding in Lebanon.”

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