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Saudis Use Facebook to Press for Reform

Saudis seeking to emulate fellow Arabs by using the web to push for change have created a group on Facebook urging political, social and economic reforms that by Tuesday had nearly 2,000 members.

"The people want to reform the regime" group calls for a constitutional monarchy, transparency, parliamentary elections, an independent and fair judicial system, anti-corruption measures and respect for human and women's rights.

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Shalom: Hizbullah Consolidating Capabilities in Contravention with 1701

Israeli deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom warned on Tuesday that Hizbullah was consolidating its military capabilities in contravention with U.N. Security Council resolution 1701.

He told the Herzliya Conference on “The Balance of Israel’s National Strength and Security" that Lebanon is the only country where a party has representatives in parliament and at the same time military capabilities.

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Real Madrid to Build Football Academy in Saudi Arabia

Real Madrid, one of the world's richest football clubs, have announced they have reached an agreement with Saudi Arabia's Prince Salman Foundation to build a sports academy in the Middle Eastern country.

The deal will officially be signed in Madrid on Monday, the Spanish club said in a statement published on their website late on Friday.

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Kingdom Offers to Buy Zain Telecom Saudi Stake

Kingdom Holding said Monday it has offered to buy the Saudi operations of Zain, opening a way for the UAE's Etisalat to acquire a majority stake in the Kuwaiti-based mobile telecoms operator.

The Saudi investment group said it has sent the board of directors of Mobile Telecommunications Company K.S.C (Zain) a "non-binding offer and a preliminary expression of interest" to acquire the Saudi side of Zain's business.

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March 8 Reportedly Agreeing on Cabinet Shares Excluding March 14

Prime Minister Designate Najib Miqati and the March 8 forces are making strong efforts to distribute portfolios among the alliance’s members excluding the March 14 forces, An Nahar daily reported Sunday.

The newspaper said that former Minister Naji Boustani would most likely have a portfolio from President Michel Suleiman’s share in the government. Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun is also seeking to bring back Jebran Bassil and Charbel Nahhas to the cabinet, it said.

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Saudi Arabia: Travel Warning to Our Citizens was Related to Events at the Time, Today it No Longer Stands

Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awadh Asiri stated on Friday that the Kingdom’s travel warning for its citizens against heading to Lebanon was related to events at the time, but now that matters have calmed down, it is no longer necessary.

The ambassador made his statements after holding talks with Prime Minister-designate Najib Miqati.

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Feltman: We Are Keen on Seeing Lebanese Commitment to International Resolutions

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman stressed that U.N. Security Council members have expressed their keenness on seeing a Lebanese commitment to international resolutions following the formation of a new government led by Caretaker PM Najib Miqati.

Feltman told pan-Arab daily al-Hayat in remarks published Friday that his talks with French officials in Paris touched on the developments in Lebanon. Security Council members have expressed to him their keenness on Lebanon’s commitment to resolutions 1701 and 1757, he said.

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Saudi Editorialists Criticize Hariri Over Unrest

Two prominent Saudi writers criticized outgoing Lebanese premier Saad Hariri in editorials published on Wednesday, saying his supporters used sectarian language and acted like Hizbullah with violent protests.

In an editorial in Saudi-owned al-Hayat entitled "The Lebanese Opposition Cloned,” Daud al-Shiryan wrote that Hariri's bloc, which is backed by Saudi Arabia, had "used the same methods" on Tuesday as his opponents in Hizbullah and allied parties.

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Oil Consolidates Losses Near $86 a Barrel in Asia

Oil prices hovered near $86 a barrel Wednesday in Asia, consolidating losses after falling more than 4 percent in less than a week on mixed economic news and the possibility of increased OPEC production.

Benchmark crude for March delivery was up 26 cents at $86.45 a barrel at early afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost $1.68 to settle at $86.19 on Tuesday.

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Riyadh Advises Citizens Not to Travel to Lebanon Amid Measures by Arab, Foreign Embassies

The Saudi Foreign Ministry advised its citizens not to travel to Lebanon at this stage as Ambassador Ali Awad Assiri denied to pan-Arab daily al-Hayat that the embassy had asked Saudis to leave the country as soon as possible.

“Given the situation in Lebanon, the Foreign Ministry advises Saudi citizens not to travel to Lebanon at this stage and until calm and stability” are restored, said a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.

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