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Lebanon Scraps Independence Rally in First Since Civil War

Lebanon's government has decided to cancel Independence Day celebrations for the first time since the 1975-1990 civil war because of the country's presidential vacuum, the information minister said Friday.

The failure of parliament to elect a new president reflects a profound political crisis linked to the war in neighboring Syria.

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Gemayel Brushes Off Aoun's Proposal as 'Elimination War, Dangerous Scheme'

Kataeb Party leader Amin Gemayel on Thursday rejected a proposal by Free Patriotic Movement chief Michel Aoun on limiting the presidential battle to himself and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, describing it as a “war of elimination” against democracy.

“General Aoun's proposal is a 'war of elimination' that is aimed at getting rid of everyone,” Gemayel said during an interview on LBCI television.

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Aoun Says Willing to Attend Electoral Session if Geagea is Sole Competitor

Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun on Wednesday announced his willingness to attend a parliamentary session aimed at electing a new president if political forces pledge to limit the voting process to him and his political rival Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea.

“I'm willing to go to parliament if I receive pledges that the electoral battle will be limited to me and Geagea,” said Aoun during an interview on MTV.

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'Positive' Signs from Ain al-Tineh over Possible Mustaqbal-Hizbullah Dialogue

Speaker Nabih Berri is still exerting efforts to launch dialogue between al-Mustaqbal movement and Hizbullah, amid “good intentions” from the two parties and support from centrist leader MP Walid Jumblat.

Berri will maintain “his coordination with MP Walid Jumblat for launching dialogue between Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal movement, because that would reflect positively on the general situations,” MPs quoted the speaker as saying after the weekly Wednesday meeting in Ain al-Tineh.

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Nasrallah Holds Talks with Moqbel on 'Political, Security Developments'

Hizbullah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah held talks Tuesday with Defense Minister Samir Moqbel.

Nasrallah met Moqbel in the presence of Wafiq Safa, head of the party's Liaison and Coordination Unit, according to a Hizbullah statement.

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Hagel Concerned over Technologies, Weapons Obtained by Hizbullah

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced a technological innovation plan to ensure America's military superiority in the 21st century, expressing concern over technologies and arms obtained by Hizbullah.

“Technologies and weapons that were once the exclusive province of advanced nations have become available to a broad range of militaries and non-state actors, from dangerously provocative North Korea to terrorist organizations like Hizbullah,” Hagel said at a national defense conference at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation in Simi Valley, California.

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Peru Judge Orders Alleged Hizbullah Member Held 18 Months

A Peruvian judge has ordered a Lebanese man held for 18 months for investigation for entering the country with false documents and who authorities say belongs to Hizbullah.

Police arrested Mohamed Hamdar on Oct. 28, saying traces of explosives were found among his possessions.

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Geagea with Polls under 1960 Law if Constitutional Council 'Shortens' Extension Period

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea on Thursday said he supports going to parliamentary elections if the Constitutional Council decides to shorten the extended term of parliament, stressing that Saudi Arabia did not influence his party's decision to vote in favor of extension.

“If the Constitutional Council decides to shorten the extension period, we are with going to elections, even under the 1960 (electoral) law,” Geagea said in an interview on LBCI television.

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Kuwaiti Abducted in Baalbek Freed

A Kuwaiti man kidnapped in August in the eastern Bekaa valley was released on Tuesday and handed over to the authorities, a security source said.

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Kin of Dead U.S. Soldiers Sue 5 Banks over Iran-Hizbullah Dealings

Families of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and soldiers wounded there in attacks allegedly linked to Iran and Hizbullah sued five European banks Monday, claiming their business with Iran helped finance the attacks.

HSBC, Credit Suisse, Standard Chartered, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Barclays Bank were sued in the federal district court in Brooklyn, New York, over their already admitted banking business with Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.

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