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Suleiman Seeks to Bridge Gap between Foes, Meets with Raad

President Michel Suleiman carried on his consultations on Wednesday with Lebanese foes over the deteriorating situation in the country and the possibility of resuming the national dialogue sessions as soon as possible.

Suleiman held talks on Wednesday with Hizbullah's Loyalty to the Resistance parliamentary bloc head MP Mohammed Raad at the Baabda Palace.

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Report: Ashton Warns against Political Vacuum, Praises Efforts to Maintain Stability

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton reiterated support to President Michel Suleiman's efforts to commence an urgent national dialogue session and avoid plunging Lebanon in a political vacuum following the assassination of Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau chief Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan, As Safir daily reported Wednesday.

Praising efforts to maintain stability and warning against political vacuum, she stressed to officials the importance of state institutions that continue to ensure security and provide services.

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Jumblat: I Support New Govt. if Conditions for it are Available

Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat renewed his rejection of political vacuum in Lebanon in the wake of the March 14-led opposition's demands for the resignation of the government and the formation of a national one, reported the daily An Nahar on Wednesday.

He told the daily: “I support the establishment of a new government if the conditions for it are available.”

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Berri Slams March 14, Says Opposition Acquired 'Bad' Behavior of March 8

Speaker Nabih Berri lashed out on Wednesday at the March 14 alliance, pointing out that it acquired all the “flaws” of the March 8 camp and added to it its own “dreadful behavior.”

“Instead of cooperating and acquiring each others positive traits, the March 14 forces decided to take the March 8 camp's flaws and added worse behavior to them,” Berri's visitors quoted him as saying in comments published in An Nahar newspaper on Wednesday.

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U.S. Wants New Cabinet in Lebanon Free of Syria Influence

The United States said Tuesday it backs efforts to form a new governing coalition in Lebanon, after last week's deadly bomb blast in Beirut plunged the country into political crisis.

"We support the efforts of President (Michel) Suleiman and other responsible leaders in Lebanon to build an effective government and to take the necessary next steps in the wake of the October 19th terrorist attack," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

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France Sentences Lebanese Prostitution Kingpin to 8 Years in Jail

A French court Tuesday sentenced a Lebanese businessman in absentia to eight years in prison over a high-end prostitution ring operating at the Cannes Film Festival that had ties to a slain son of Moammar Gadhafi.

The judge also slapped a 50,000 euro ($64,000) fine on Elie Nahas, a Lebanese who claimed to run a modeling agency employing young women recruited in South America, France and eastern Europe.

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Ceasefire Declared, Army Deploys in Tripoli after 11 Killed, 39 Hurt

The army deployed on Tuesday in Syria Street, the frontier between the rival Tripoli districts of Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh, as a ceasefire was declared following three days of clashes in the area that left 11 people dead and 39 others wounded.

“All gunmen have left the streets and internal alleys” in Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen, a security official told Agence France Press.

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Geagea: Killing Machine Part of This Govt. in Direct or Indirect Way and We Must Stop It

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea on Tuesday warned that “the killing machine has returned and we must find a solution to stop it," in the wake of the assassination of Intelligence Bureau chief Maj. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan in a car bombing blamed on Syria.

"The current situation is unacceptable as we are being killed," Geagea said at a press conference in Maarab, adding that "the parliamentary political life in Lebanon is not normal."

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Mustaqbal to Boycott Dialogue: For Forming Govt. Comprising Members from outside March 8, 14

Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc on Tuesday called for forming "a neutral salvation government comprising members from outside the March 14 and March 8 camps," while announcing that it will boycott any national dialogue session or parliamentary meetings that involve the participation of the government.

“This new government must shift the country from the state of tension to a state of calm, security and stability, which would represent the first step towards restoring balance and national partnership in Lebanon,” the bloc said.

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Army: 100 Gunmen Arrested, Including 34 Syrians, 4 Palestinians

The Army Command on Tuesday announced that army units arrested around 100 gunmen, including 34 Syrians and four Palestinians, in a security sweep in Beirut and Tripoli, as calm returned to the areas that witnessed deadly clashes over the past three days.

“Army units deployed in the areas that witnessed unrest over the past few days continued implementing the security plan laid out by the Command to suppress the presence of gunmen on the streets and confront any shooting, rioting or attacks against citizens' properties,” the Army Command said in a statement.

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