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Saudi Postpones Biggest Festival after King's Death

Saudi Arabia on Monday postponed its biggest national cultural festival, an event developed by the late King Abdullah, after his death last week.

The Janadriyah festival was to be held on February 4-22, with a special guest pavilion from Germany.

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Kataeb Urges 'Military Zone' on Eastern Border, Says Dialogue Priority Must be Electing President

The Kataeb Party called Monday for controlling the border and declaring the eastern border region a "military zone" as it urged the Lebanese parties to speed up the ongoing dialogues in order to elect a president.

In a statement issued after the weekly meeting of its political bureau, Kataeb expressed its “confidence in the Lebanese Army and its role in defending its citizens and land, as well as its pride in the unity among Lebanese every time the country is facing a dangerous test.”

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Child Rapist in First Execution under New Saudi King

Saudi Arabia on Monday beheaded a serial child rapist, in the first execution since King Salman's rise to the throne in the conservative Muslim monarchy, official media said.

"Mousa bin Saeed Ali al-Zahrani lured several underage girls and kidnapped them. He also threatened them and their relatives and physically assaulted them in his home," the Saudi Press Agency said, citing the interior ministry.

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Saudis Seek Greater U.S. Role in Mideast as Obama Visits

New Saudi King Salman is expected to use President Barack Obama's stopover on Tuesday to push for greater U.S. involvement in resolving Middle East crises, analysts say.

Obama, accompanied by his wife Michelle, is cutting short a visit to India to convey his condolences after the death of ailing King Abdullah last Friday.

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New Saudi Leaders to Press Economic Diversification

Saudi Arabia's new leadership will push forward efforts to diversify the growing but oil-dependent economy, while easing procedures for investors, senior officials said on Monday.

"The smooth transition of power to King Salman is a testament of the stability and the commitment that our leadership has," Abdullatif al-Othman, governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), told a conference.

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Yemen Militia Block Fresh Protest Efforts

Yemen's powerful Shiite militia blocked access to Sanaa University on Monday as opponents to their takeover of the capital called for more demonstrations against their tightening grip on Sanaa.

The militiamen, known as Huthis, set up barriers along roads leading to Change Square just outside the university, a hotbed of opposition, witnesses and activists said.

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Salam Determined to Improve Cabinet Work despite Troubles

Prime Minister Tammam Salam has lamented that the government was suffering over the absence of a president despite his determination to improve its productivity.

As Safir daily on Monday quoted Salam as saying that “the work of the government has been transformed into a permanent suffering that takes several forms amid the presidential vacuum.”

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Report: Berri, Hariri Discussed Hizbullah-Mustaqbal Dialogue

Speaker Nabih Berri has discussed with al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri the talks between Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal representatives, al-Joumhouria newspaper reported on Monday.

The daily said that Berri's short meeting with Hariri was held in Riyadh over the weekend when the speaker extended his condolences on the death of Saudi King Abdullah.

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Girault's Shuttle Diplomacy Endeavors Continue, to Visit Lebanon Next Month

Director of the Department of the Middle East and North Africa at the French Foreign Ministry Jean-François Girault will visit Lebanon at the beginning of February to resume his initiative to resolve the ongoing presidential deadlock.

An Nahar newspaper reported on Monday that the French diplomat's visit aims at reviving his initiative and contacts with Lebanese officials.

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World Leaders Pay Respects on Saudi Day of Mourning

More foreign leaders flocked to Saudi Arabia paying their respects to King Salman on Sunday, as the normally gridlocked streets of Riyadh turned quiet during a day of mourning for his predecessor Abdullah.

The latest arrivals included Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito, Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani, Belgium's King Philippe, Libya's internationally-recognized Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani, and President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela.

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