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Report: ‘Political Settlement’ between Aoun, Hariri ‘Unbroken’

The relations between President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri “are not broken” and the political pact between the two men that brought Aoun to the presidency post remains “intact,” al-Mustaqbal daily reported on Thursday.

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Bassil: Aoun's Tenure an Exceptional Opportunity for Lebanon

Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Jebran Bassil on Wednesday announced that President Michel Aoun's tenure “represents an exceptional opportunity for Lebanon.”

“Baseless media statements, articles and analyses are attributing to the FPM chief plans about the presidential race, including what was published today as part of a campaign whose source and objectives are well-known and whose aim is to undermine General Aoun's presidential tenure,” Bassil said in a statement issued by his press office.

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Berri Says Govt. Delay Has Become 'Unbearable'

Speaker Nabih Berri warned Wednesday that the ongoing delay in the government formation process has become “unbearable,” as he reiterated his call for a quick government formation.

“There is nothing new regarding the government,” MPs quoted Berri as saying during the weekly Ain el-Tineh meeting.

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Berri Sues al-Jadeed over Private Power Providers Report

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has filed a lawsuit against al-Jadeed television over a report accusing officials from his AMAL Movement of “conspiring with power generator providers.”

The libel lawsuit targets “the head of the Tahseen Khayat Media Group, Karma Khayat and the station's news director Mariam al-Bassam,” the National News Agency said.

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U.S. Reportedly Seeking to Expand UNIFIL Missions

The United States is seeking to grant the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) greater powers that involve “the possibility of intervention, deterrence and accountability,” a media report said.

“The White House's National Security Adviser John Bolton is conducting consultations with a number of U.S. diplomats and security officials in order to turn the occasion of extending UNIFIL's mandate in late August into a 'non-routine occasion,' as has been the case since the arrival of these forces in Lebanon in 1978 after the first Israeli invasion of the South,” al-Akhbar daily quoted “highly informed diplomatic sources” as saying in remarks published Wednesday.

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Hariri 'Won't Step Down', May Present Technocrat Govt.

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri will not step down and may resort to the option of submitting a “technocrat government” line-up to President Michel Aoun, sources from his movement said.

Hariri “will not step down and will not count on the new allies, who have started to topple the political settlement, nor on his old allies. He will only rely on the Constitution,” Mustaqbal Movement sources told al-Joumhouria newspaper in remarks published Wednesday.

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Mustaqbal Says Govt. Obstacles 'Domestic', Slams Talk of Syria 'Approval'

Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc on Tuesday emphasized that “domestic” and not “foreign” obstacles are delaying the formation of the new government as it condemned claims about the need for a “prior approval from the Syrian regime.”

“As the bloc stresses that the formation process is facing domestic obstacles and rejects claims that there are foreign diktats..., it has also taken note that some have volunteered to carry direct messages linking the formation of the government to the prior approval of the Syrian regime,” the bloc said in a statement issued after its weekly meeting, adding that Damascus can only “dream” of having a say in the matter.

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Hariri Urges Parties to 'Show Modesty' instead of Blaming Him for Govt. Delay

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri on Tuesday called on the political parties to “show modesty” in their demands regarding the new government as he stressed that he is not behind the ongoing delay.

“They are blaming me for the delay whereas each party is clinging to its stances and demands,” Hariri told reporters ahead of a meeting for the al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc.

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Bassil Vows Campaign to 'Liberate Lebanon from Captivity'

Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Jebran Bassil warned Tuesday that the FPM could stage a campaign to “liberate Lebanon” from what he called “political captivity.”

“It's unacceptable to blackmail the new presidential tenure with the need to form a government in order to form a crippled government and we have already made concessions regarding a lot of things,” Bassil said after the weekly meeting of the Strong Lebanon bloc.

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Ibrahim Meets Nizar Zakka in Iran

General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim has paid a visit to Iran during which he met with Lebanese detainee Nizar Zakka in his prison, Lebanon's state-run National News Agency said on Tuesday.

LBCI television meanwhile reported that Ibrahim "checked up on Zakka's situation and the latter is in good health."

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