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Miqati Stresses Openness and Dialogue, Says Keen on Good Ties with U.S.

Prime Minister-designate Najib Miqati stressed on openness and dialogue and said he was comfortable at the local atmosphere and the prospect of ties with the Arab world and the international community.

In remarks to An Nahar and al-Hayat newspapers on Thursday, Miqati described regional and international reactions to his mission as “very good.”

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Clinton, Judeh Hope Lebanese Will Sustain Independence, Sovereignty

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that Lebanese rather than foreigners should decide the country's future.

The United States has warned of effects on bilateral relations after billionaire businessman Najib Miqati was named premier-designate with the support of Hizbullah and its allies.

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U.S. Cracks Down on Lebanese Cocaine Ring

The United States on Wednesday levied sanctions against an alleged Lebanese cocaine trafficking ring, with operations spanning Latin America, West Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

The group -- led by Ayman Joumaa and including at least nine other people and 19 entities -- was said to have laundered proceeds worth as much as $200 million per month.

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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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Clinton Says 'Hizbullah-Controlled' Govt Will Affect U.S.-Lebanon Ties

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that a Hizbullah-controlled government in Lebanon would "clearly have an impact" on ties with the United States.

The comments came after Hizbullah-backed Najib Miqati was named Lebanon's prime minister-designate, giving the Iran- and Syria-backed armed group increased leverage in the deeply divided country to the anger of many Sunnis.

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Feltman to Paris Wednesday for Talks on Lebanon, Tunisia

The top-ranking U.S. envoy for the Middle East, Jeffrey Feltman, said he would travel to France on Wednesday for talks on the situation in Lebanon and Tunisia, following a visit to Tunis.

"I'm going to meet with the French tomorrow to talk about Tunisia and Lebanon," he told reporters in Tunis.

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Japan Rocket Carries Supplies to Space Station

A Japanese rocket carrying supplies for the International Space Station successfully lifted off from a remote island Saturday on a mission designed to help fill a hole left by the retirement of NASA's space shuttle program.

The unmanned rocket was carrying nearly 6 tons of food, water, clothing and experimental equipment to the astronauts in orbit in the space station, an international project involving 15 nations. The rocket also was carrying cargo for NASA.

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With Term Half Done, Obama Seeks Second

U.S. President Barack Obama passed the halfway point of his four-year term Thursday and revealed he is already plotting to win a second, boosted by a sudden upswing in popularity.

Obama's spokesman Robert Gibbs divulged the worst-kept secret in Washington, saying that his boss would "likely" ask voters to send him back to the White House in 2012.

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U.S.: Khamenei Doesn't Have Authority Over Tribunal

The United States slammed Iranian Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei over his rejection of any ruling by the international tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Khamenei "does not have the authority over the tribunal. It was convened by the United Nations," said State Department spokesman Philip Crowley.

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U.S. Diplomat Richard Holbrooke Dies at 69

Richard Holbrooke, a brilliant and feisty U.S. diplomat who wrote part of the Pentagon Papers, was the architect of the 1995 Bosnia peace plan and served as President Barack Obama's special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, died Monday, the State Department said. He was 69.

Calling Holbrooke "a true giant of American foreign policy," Obama paid homage to the veteran diplomat as "a truly unique figure who will be remembered for his tireless diplomacy, love of country, and pursuit of peace." Holbrooke deserves credit for much of the progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the president said.

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