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Berri Says Weapons Will Not be Discussed, Jumblat Welcomes his Calls for Dialogue

Speaker Nabih Berri said on Friday that his suggestion on resuming the national dialogue should focus on discussing the situation in the northern city of Tripoli, stressing that if needed, the dialogue could discuss other issues.

“The (suggested) national dialogue will not tackle the arms that are apparently widely spreading in various places” across Lebanon, Berri told As Safir.

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Al-Mawlawi Denies Traveling to Syria and Having Links to Al-Qaida

Detained Islamist Shadi al-Mawlawi denied the accusations against him that he belongs to the al-Qaida terrorist organization as his release is not expected to take place any time soon, reported the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat on Friday.

Informed sources from the investigations with the detainee revealed that al-Mawlawi had also denied accusations that he had fought alongside the Free Syrian Army against the Syrian army.

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Suleiman Ready to Sign $5.9 Bill to End Financial Crisis

President Michel Suleiman reiterated his readiness to sign the $5.9 billion extra-budgetary spending in order to motivate the cabinet to approve the $3.12 billion draft that covers the expenses of the first half of 2012.

The president is optimistic that the financial crisis will end once the cabinet begins tackling the 2012 state budget, Suleiman’s visitors told An Nahar newspaper on Friday.

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Qahwaji: Majority of Tripoli Gunmen under Politicians’ Influence

Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji stressed that politicians have a responsibility to work on restoring calm in the northern city of Tripoli, reported As Safir newspaper on Friday.

He told the newspaper: “More than half of the gunmen in Tripoli are under the politicians’ influence.”

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Miqati Hopes Calm Would be Restored in Tripoli, Urges Officials to Discuss Future

Prime Minister Najib Miqati expressed optimism that calm would be restored in the northern city of Tripoli as all officials in the city are seeking to resolve the situation.

“We have passed through difficult situations but we were able to overcome them, it’s time for us to discuss the future,” Miqati told An Nahar newspaper on Friday.

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U.S. Embassy: We Learned of Mawlawi Arrest from Media, Claims of U.S. Role in Seizing Arms Ship Fabricated by Overblown Imagination

Only hours after the Lebanese army intercepted the weapon-laden ship Lutfallah II off Tripoli’s coast, the Lebanese media was buzzing with reports attributed to security and political officials and claiming that the Lebanese army had received intelligence information from “major Western states,” with some saying that the U.S. was behind the intelligence tip-off.

The reports spoke of an arms shipment destined for the Syrian opposition, which Washington feared would end up in the hands of pro-Qaida gunmen practicing their activities in Syria and Lebanon – which further allowed the army to intercept the ship and seize its cargo.

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Safadi Confirms Suing General Security, Rejects to be 'Implicated in Tripoli Unrest'

Finance Minister Mohammed Safadi confirmed Thursday that he has filed a lawsuit against the General Directorate of General Security, rejecting any attempt to “implicate” him without his consent in the latest unrest in Tripoli.

The northern city has been witnessing intermittent deadly clashes since five days that were sparked by the arrest on Saturday of Islamist activist Shadi al-Mawlawi by General Security agents at the entrance of an office belonging to Safadi.

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Syria Hands General Security 3 Suspects in Estonians Case

Syrian authorities on Thursday handed over to the General Directorate of General Security three suspects allegedly involved in the 2011 abduction of seven Estonian nationals in Lebanon.

General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim earlier on Thursday informed President Michel Suleiman that the suspects would be handed over shortly.

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Mawlawi's Release Request Referred to Military Court

A request to release Salafist activist Shadi al-Mawlawi was referred on Thursday to the Military Court, with his lawyer expecting that a ruling would be issued Friday.

Military Investigative Judge Nabil Wehbi interrogated Mawlawi for around four hours, in the presence of his lawyer Mohammed Hafza who filed the release request.

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Asiri Meets Jumblat, Discusses with Berri Holding National Dialogue on Tripoli

Speaker Nabih Berri on Thursday said he discussed with Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awadh Asiri the possibility of calling the leaders of the national dialogue committee to a meeting under the chairmanship of President Michel Suleiman that would “at least discuss” the latest unrest in Tripoli.

Following a meeting in Ain al-Tineh, Berri said talks with Asiri also tackled “the need for the Lebanese to take a unified stance in order to find an urgent, effective and permanent solution to the situation in the North.”

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