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Report: Aoun's Position at Arab Summit Draws Fate of U.S. Measures against Banks

After his latest defensive statements of Hizbullah and its weapons, President Michel Aoun is under a “pressure campaign” at the domestic and international levels “to prevent him from making unfavorable positions at the upcoming Arab League Summit,” as concerns mount that U.S. authorities could tighten measures on Lebanese banks over alleged facilitation of Hizbullah transactions, al-Akhbar daily reported on Thursday.

It is estimated that the pressure campaign and intimidation will continue, at least until the Arab summit convenes at the end of March in Amman, to prevent Aoun from declaring “undesirable” positions at the highest Arab forum, said the daily.

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Hariri-Sisi Talks Discuss Bolstering Ties Between Countries

Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi received on Wednesday at al-Ittihadiyah Palace, Prime Minister Saad Hariri in the presence of his Egyptian counterpart Prime Minister Sharif Ismail, Hariri's press office said.

Discussions focused on the latest developments at the Arab and international arenas, in addition to the means to bolster bilateral relations between the two countries at various levels, added the statement.

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Bassil: U.S. Must Support Lebanese Army in its Fight against Terrorism

Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil said from Washington, there is a Lebanese consensus on the role of the Resistance and Hizbullah in fighting the Israeli enemy and defending Lebanon, but stressed that preserving stability and fighting terrorism are the responsibility of the Lebanese Army, the National News Agency reported on Wednesday.

In an interview in Washington with Henri J. Barkey, Director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and replying to a question about Hizbullah's intervention in regional affairs, Bassil said he does not “speak on behalf of Hizbullah.”

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Berri Warns of New Conflict with Israel over Maritime Borders

Speaker Nabih Berri warned on Wednesday of an Israeli pretext to trigger a new war against Lebanon after the latest reports about decisions made by the Israeli government and the Knesset to approve the demarcation of the maritime-economic border with Lebanon, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Wednesday.

Berri voiced warnings of the “new Israeli assault against Lebanon's sovereignty,” and said “what has been revealed by Israeli media was not arbitrary, but rather reveals a path taken by Israel in a bid to control Lebanon's gas and oil wealth within Lebanese economic borders.”

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UK Bans Laptops, Tabs on Flights Coming from 6 Nations including Lebanon

Britain tightened airline security on flights from Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa on Tuesday, banning laptops and tablet computers from the plane cabin following a U.S. security warning.

Passengers flying directly to Britain from Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey will be required to place those devices and large phones into hold luggage, a UK government spokesman said.

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Israeli Army Chief: Badreddine Killed by His Own Men

Israel has concluded that Hizbullah's top military commander Mustafa Badreddine was killed in Syria last year by rivals within the Iran-backed Lebanese group, Israel's military chief said Tuesday.

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Israel Says Anti-Hizbullah Missile Interceptor Fully Operational Soon

David's Sling, a joint U.S.-Israeli missile interceptor meant to counter medium-range missiles possessed by Hizbullah, will be operational in early April, completing Israel's multi-layer defense system, a senior Israeli air force official said on Monday.

This marks the completion of Israel's missile defense system, he said.

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Khalil Reveals Offer to Scrap Taxes Targeting Banks, Says New Levies Won't Target Poor

Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said on Monday that a tax item that imposes levies on financial institutions is what thwarted the approval of the wage scale in 2014, adding that banking officials have suggested giving the government one billion dollars in return for scrapping the item.

“We have been offered one billion dollars in return for scrapping a tax item that targets Lebanon's banks,” said Khalil in a press interview.

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Army Raids House of Drug Kingpin Nouh Zoaiter in Bekaa

Lebanon's army intelligence staged a security day and carried out several raids in the Bekaa region in east Lebanon including residences of drug kingpin Nouh Zoaiter, VDL (100.5) said on Monday.

The army raided a number of houses that belong to Zoaiter in Hay al-Sharawneh but they did not find him, added VDL.

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Hariri Receives Geagea for Talks on Pressing Issues

Prime Minister Saad Hariri received on Sunday evening at the Center House, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea where talks focused on several pivotal issues.

The meeting which lasted two hours and included a working dinner, tackled the parliamentary electoral law, Lebanon's 2017 budget plan, the long-stalled salary scale and the general situation in the country, Hariri's media office said in a statement on Monday.

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